COVID-19 Emergencies to End May 11

Presdent Joe R. Biden informed the United States Congress on Monday, January 30, that he will end the COVID-19 public health emergencies (PHE) on May 11, 2023, three years after the PHE was first announced. Ending the COVID-19 PHE will alter how the virus is treated, downgrading it from a pandemic to an endemic public…

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Extended Again

The Biden administration has renewed the Public Health Emergency (PHE) that has been in effect since January 27, 2020 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released the following statement on January 11, 2023: As a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)  pandemic, on…

Admin Announces New $350 Million Initiative to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced a new $350 million initiative for HRSA-supported health centers to increase COVID-19 vaccines in their communities, with a specific focus on underserved populations. This funding will support health centers administering updated COVID-19 vaccines through mobile, drive-up, walk-up,…

Monkeypox Prevention and Control

Monkeypox Fact Sheet The World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, as the number of confirmed cases has increased to over 30,000 across 88 countries, with more than14,000 cases in the U.S. On August 4, 2022, President Biden declared monkeypox a national public health emergency. Although patients infected with monkeypox may…

Feds Extends American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services

On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year — through March 31, 2025 — to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services (HCBS) for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.

As the primary funder of HCBS nationally, Medicaid plays a critical role in supporting states’ efforts to strengthen these services for their beneficiaries. Section 9817 of the American Rescue Plan provides states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for certain Medicaid expenditures for HCBS — an estimated $12.7 billion. As a result of the ARP increase in the federal matching rate on activities, states originally had a three-year period — from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2024 — to use the available state funds, attributable to the ARP’s increased FMAP, on activities to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS in Medicaid. The extended timeframe, of an additional year, will help to facilitate high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services for people with Medicaid. This will allow Medicaid beneficiaries to remain in the setting of their choice—whether it is their home or another setting—and remain a valued part of their communities.

This ARP funding allows states to identify and implement changes aimed at addressing existing HCBS workforce and structural issues. It will also help expand states’ capacity to provide critical services and meet the needs of family caregivers and people on HCBS waitlists. Moreover, states can use these funds to tailor HCBS activities based on the needs and priorities of their residents. For example, states can use the funds to provide additional support to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals who need long-term services and supports, who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and who might otherwise be in more costly nursing homes and other institutions instead of their own homes. Some states are also using the funds to increase pay and benefits for direct service workers, which many states were unable to do before the ARP funding increase due to funding shortages and restrictions.

“Everyone deserves the dignity to live in their own homes and communities, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting that right,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to extended funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we are expanding home- and community-based services for millions of aging Americans and people with disabilities across the country. We are working hand-in-hand with states to ensure they have the time and support they need to strengthen their home care systems and workforce.”

“With this extension, we are addressing states’ concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the risks of institutional and congregate settings for older Americans and people with disabilities, underscoring the urgent need to expand access to high-quality HCBS to improve outcomes for people who need long-term services and supports. HCBS allow millions of Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings.

Critical safeguards are in place through the ARP legislation and CMS’ guidance to certify that these funds are used appropriately. Between now and the March 2025 deadline, CMS will continue to monitor states’ progress and compliance to ensure funding is used to strengthen HCBS under their Medicaid program.

Additional information on states’ spending plans — including a recently updated infographic summarizing planned activities and key investments — can be found at Medicaid.gov https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

To review the guidelines for the use of the ARP funds, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd21003.pdf.

To review the State Medicaid Director Letter extending the spending deadline, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd22002.pdf.

Feds Extend American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

  • States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services

On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year — through March 31, 2025 — to use funding made available by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to enhance, expand, and strengthen home- and community-based services (HCBS) for people with Medicaid who need long-term services and supports.

“This is very good news,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “The ARPA funds are desperately need in Medicaid HCBS but using those founds properly has been a complex undertaking for the states. The added time to use the funds is very welcome.”

As the primary funder of HCBS nationally, Medicaid plays a critical role in supporting states’ efforts to strengthen these services for their beneficiaries. Section 9817 of the American Rescue Plan provides states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for certain Medicaid expenditures for HCBS — an estimated $12.7 billion. As a result of the ARP increase in the federal matching rate on activities, states originally had a three-year period — from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2024 — to use the available state funds, attributable to the ARP’s increased FMAP, on activities to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS in Medicaid. The extended timeframe, of an additional year, will help to facilitate high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services for people with Medicaid. This will allow Medicaid beneficiaries to remain in the setting of their choice—whether it is their home or another setting—and remain a valued part of their communities.

This ARP funding allows states to identify and implement changes aimed at addressing existing HCBS workforce and structural issues. It will also help expand states’ capacity to provide critical services and meet the needs of family caregivers and people on HCBS waitlists. Moreover, states can use these funds to tailor HCBS activities based on the needs and priorities of their residents. For example, states can use the funds to provide additional support to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals who need long-term services and supports, who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and who might otherwise be in more costly nursing homes and other institutions instead of their own homes. Some states are also using the funds to increase pay and benefits for direct service workers, which many states were unable to do before the ARP funding increase due to funding shortages and restrictions.

“Everyone deserves the dignity to live in their own homes and communities, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting that right,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to extended funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we are expanding home- and community-based services for millions of aging Americans and people with disabilities across the country. We are working hand-in-hand with states to ensure they have the time and support they need to strengthen their home care systems and workforce.”

“With this extension, we are addressing states’ concerns, giving states the time and resources to strengthen connections to care at home and in communities,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the risks of institutional and congregate settings for older Americans and people with disabilities, underscoring the urgent need to expand access to high-quality HCBS to improve outcomes for people who need long-term services and supports. HCBS allow millions of Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings.

Critical safeguards are in place through the ARP legislation and CMS’ guidance to certify that these funds are used appropriately. Between now and the March 2025 deadline, CMS will continue to monitor states’ progress and compliance to ensure funding is used to strengthen HCBS under their Medicaid program.

Additional information on states’ spending plans — including a recently updated infographic summarizing planned activities and key investments — can be found at Medicaid.gov https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/home-community-based-services/guidance/strengthening-and-investing-home-and-community-based-services-for-medicaid-beneficiaries-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021-section-9817-spending-plans-and-narratives/index.html.

To review the guidelines for the use of the ARP funds, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd21003.pdf.

To review the State Medicaid Director Letter extending the spending deadline, please visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/smd22002.pdf.

Feds Extend American Rescue Plan Spending Deadline for States to Expand Medicaid HCBS

States will have an additional year to use American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the home care workforce and expand access to services On Friday, June 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is notifying states that they now have an additional year…

New Way for Medicare Beneficiaries to Get Free Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests

The Biden administration is announcing today that more than 59 million Americans with Medicare Part B, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, now have access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, authorized, or cleared over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at no cost. People with Medicare can get up to eight tests per calendar month…

UPDATE! Current Status of the Federal Vaccine Mandates

The status of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandates continue to evolve with extensive ongoing litigation and policy adjustments by the respective federal agencies. NAHC’s outside employment law counsel, Polsinelli, has prepared a detailed memorandum setting forth the status of the mandate rules and policy.

It looks like that the ultimate outcome will lie in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court in the near term. The Court has ordered expedited briefing on the emergency petitions pending before the Court following several Court of Appeals rulings.  That generally means we may see some preliminary decisions from the Court early in 2022.

Meanwhile, NAHC continues to advise members to be prepared for implementation and enforcement of the CMS and OSHA requirements, although holding off on termination or suspension of staff that are not compliant. Also, it is essential that you keep in mind state and local requirements relative to a vaccine mandate or other infection control measures.

We urge you to read the entire memo.

From Polsinelli

Authors: Angelo Spinola & Will Vail

On November 4, 2021, the Biden Administration made three vaccine mandate announcements. Since then, there has been robust litigation bringing these mandates into question. This updated memo will detail these announcements, offer ideas on how to determine their impact (if any) on your business and tell you about some solutions we have created.

One of the announcements came from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It announced a new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that gives “large” employers the option of requiring vaccinations or allowing employees to test weekly for COVID-19. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also simultaneously issued an Interim Final Rule that requires covered providers to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for “staff” to keep safe those who are receiving care. And finally, the Biden Administration pushed back the compliance date for federal contractors to January 18, 2022 (meaning the second of two shots would need to be administered by January 4, 2022).

Read the entire memo.

UPDATE! Current Status of the Federal Vaccine Mandates

The status of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandates continue to evolve with extensive ongoing litigation and policy adjustments by the respective federal agencies. NAHC’s outside employment law counsel, Polsinelli, has prepared a detailed memorandum setting forth the…