Stimulus Funds Finally Overcome Bureaucratic Obstacles

May 24, 2021

States Now Have Guidance on Spending for the Disability Community

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law over two months ago. This newest COVID relief package has been hailed by the autism community for providing long sought-after relief for a very overlooked population. Unfortunately, these funds remained in limbo for weeks as states waited for clear directions from the federal government on how they could be spent. Finally last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) issued their long-awaited guidance outlining how states can utilize stimulus funds. In short, states are receiving considerable leeway for spending the extra $12.67 billion for Medicaid home and community-based services. After the CMS guidance was released, the Biden administration provided further clarification by holding a phone call with reporters which provided examples of ways states can use these funds. These examples included: respite for family caregivers, providing assistive technology, offering additional services like mental health or telehealth, and various options to help recruit, retain and train the workforce of direct support professionals. CMS states in their guidance that these stimulus funds must be used to “supplement, not supplant” existing services, meaning that it has to be spent on home and community-based services that were not available under the Medicaid program as of April 1. As an extra benefit, the federal government is giving states longer to use these funds, extending the spending deadline through March 31, 2024. 

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