Look for Big Changes in Disability Programs as COVID Winds Down

May 15, 2022

As the Public Health Emergency Status Ends, So Does Access to Extra Federal Money

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency (PHE) at the end of January in 2020. The PHE designation gave states access to extra federal money for Medicaid so long as they followed certain guidelines. Federal officials were also granted extra aid to home and community-based service providers who struggled to maintain staffing during the pandemic. In total, the PHE has been extended nine times over the past two years. Now, as the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade, the federal government is considering ending the PHE status, currently set to expire on July 15. In preparation for this change, HHS is informing people with disabilities to get ready for significant changes in their services. The Administration for Community Living has generated a new fact sheet to help those in the disability community prepare for these upcoming adjustments. The sheet advises Medicaid beneficiaries to keep their contact information current with their state’s program and to mail back any Medicaid forms they receive. Once the PHE ends, individuals on Medicaid will have to go through a redetermination process where their financial eligibility is reassessed. The Biden administration is committing to provide at least 60 days notice before the PHE ends. However, many disability advocates are asking for more time, arguing that states are not prepared to implement the upcoming changes. These advocates are particularly concerned that states and providers will not have sufficient staffing, processes and plans in place to access home and community-based services. They are also worried that individuals with disabilities will be wrongly removed from their benefits. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services say that they are “ensuring states are prepared to return successfully to normal eligibility and enrollment operations is a top priority.” The agency also pointed to a recent investment of $12.7 billion for home and community-based services that was part of the American Rescue Plan, which they say will address the shortage of direct support professionals. 

Original Article

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons