POTUS Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Money Follows the Person Expansion
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will offer more than $110 million to expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS) through Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. MFP was first authorized in 2005 and has provided states with $4.06 billion to support people with disabilities who choose to transition out of institutions and back into their homes and communities. “From the start of the program in 2008 through the end of 2020, states have transitioned over 107,000 people to community living under MFP.”
The Notice of Funding Opportunity makes individual awards of up to $5 million available for more than 20 states and territories that currently are not participating in MFP. The funds will support initial planning and implementation to get the programs started so more people with Medicaid can receive high-quality, cost-effective, person-centered services in a setting they choose. The deadline to apply is May 31, 2022. The anticipated start date is September 1, 2022.
On March 31, 2022, for states already participating in MFP, CMS announced an increased reimbursement rate for MFP “supplemental services.” These services will now be 100 percent federally funded with no state share. CMS is also expanding the definition of supplemental services to include additional services that can support an individual’s transition from an institution to the community, including short-term housing and food assistance.
CMS is offering new grants to some states and territories, so they can create programs to help people who live in institutions to move into the community. States and territories currently participating in MFP will received increased federal funding for providing some additional services.
The Health Equity and Accountability Act
On April 26, 2022, Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-2nd), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). Since 2003, the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has introduced the HEAA. The HEAA works to improve health equity. The “HEAA is a comprehensive and strategic legislative roadmap that aims to eliminate racial and ethnic health inequities.” HEAA is the only comprehensive legislation that “directly addresses the intersection of health inequities with race and ethnicity, as well as immigration status, age, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language, and socio-economic status.”
The bill focuses on ten main topics to ensure health equity:
· Collecting and reporting data
· Ensuring culturally and linguistically appropriate health and healthcare
· Improving health workforce diversity
· Improving healthcare access and quality
· Improving health outcomes for women, children, and families
· Improving treatment for mental health conditions and substance use
· Addressing high impact minority diseases
· Improving health information technology
· Ensuring accountability and evaluation
· Addressing social determinants and improving environmental justice
The HEAA was introduced in the House of Representatives. The HEAA will work to eliminate the differences in healthcare experienced by people with disabilities and people of color to ensure everyone can access high-quality healthcare.
The Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act
On April 28, 2022, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5th), Jim Banks (R-IN-3rd) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2nd) introduced The Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act. The bill would expand access to treatment and prevent discrimination against people with disabilities by prohibiting the use of “quality adjusted life years” (QALYs) in all federal programs. Currently, only Medicare is prohibited from using QALYs. QALYs are a metric used to determine the cost-effectiveness of medications and treatment in healthcare. The metric is a subjective quality of life standard that anticipates a person’s lifespan. The use of QALYs can lead to denying medications and treatment to people with disabilities.
In 2019, the National Council on Disability issued the report Quality-Adjusted Life Years and the Devaluation of Life with Disability. “The lives of people with disabilities are equally valuable to those without disabilities, and healthcare decisions based on devaluing the lives of people with disabilities are discriminatory.” In an effort to lower healthcare costs, some public and private health insurance providers have utilized QALYs to determine the cost-effectiveness of medications and treatment. QALYs place a lower value on medications and treatments which extend the lives of people with and disabilities. In the report, NCD found sufficient evidence of the discriminatory effects of QALYs. The use of QALYs in a state-run program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
People with disabilities may be denied medication and treatment if QALYs are used to make decisions. The use of QALYs discriminate against people with disabilities in receiving healthcare. Some members of Congress are working to be sure federal programs do not use QALYs.
Office of Minority Health Releases Framework for Health Equity
The Office of Minority Health of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the Framework for Health Equity for 2022-2032. The Framework looks to strengthen CMS’ infrastructure for assessment, create greater collaborations across the healthcare system to drive important structural changes and identify and eliminate barriers to CMS-supported benefits, services, and coverage for people who are underserved or disadvantaged and service providers.
The Framework focuses on five priority areas including:
Expanding the Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Standardized Data
Assessing the Causes of Disparities Within CMS Programs and Addressing Inequities in Policies and Operations to Close Gaps
Building Capacity of Health Care Organizations and the Workforce to Reduce Health and Health Care Disparities
Advancing Language Access, Health Literacy and the Provision of Culturally Tailored Services
Increasing All Forms of Accessibility to Health Care Services and Coverage
CMS has written a new plan for how to improve access to quality healthcare by people with disabilities and people of color over the next ten years.
What this means to you:
How could a federal shutdown affect people with disabilities?
The link below will take you to the Social Security Administration's contingency plan for a shutdown:
This link will show how Food Stamps could be affected in a shutdown:
This link will show how housing assistance could be affected by a shutdown:
This link will show how the mail could be affected by a shutdown:
Here is a link to the IRS contingency plan and an article explaining how a shutdown could affect your tax return:
Here are two links specific to how a government shutdown could affect Wyoming:
Casper Star Tribune Article:
Wyoming Public Media: