Congress Approves American Rescue Plan Act with Key Features for Home & Community Based Services

 In Covid-19

On Wednesday, March 10, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, following the Senate’s approval of the bill over the weekend.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act is the sweeping COVID-19 relief package identified by President Biden as his top legislative priority in the early days of his administration. The law contains $1.9 trillion in new spending, the largest stimulus ever approved by Congress.

The legislation includes provisions addressing issues within public health, labor, and small business, as well as many other aspects of the country.

In past COVID-19 relief packages, the National Association for Home Care (NAHC) was successful in advocating for provisions positively impacting home care and hospice providers. That trend continued with the American Rescue Plan through significant funding to the Medicaid HCBS program and additional provider relief funds allocated to rural services. Following is a summary of the provisions of not to home care and hospice providers.

Medicaid HCBS Funding

In past relief packages, NAHC and Congressional Champions were left frustrated by the lack of funds and attention given to home and community-based services (HCBS) in the Medicaid program. The ARP will provide for a 10% increase for one year starting on April 1st to the Federal Medical Assistance Program (FMAP), the federal share of Medicaid, specifically for HCBS. These funds can be applied towards:

  • Home Health Care services
  • Personal care services
  • PACE services
  • HCBS Services
  • Case Management services
  • Rehab services

Rural Provider Relief Fund Allocation

$8.5 billion has been allocated in provider relief funds specifically for rural providers. The original draft of the legislation limited this provision to providers located in rural areas.

NAHC worked with Congress and was successful in changing the provision to open eligibility up to providers that may be located in urban areas, but serve patients in rural areas.

Vaccines

$12.2 billion has been provided to increase vaccination supplies and distribution capacity designed to speed up vaccine administration.

These provisions will prove very helpful to home care and hospice providers in the coming days. While NAHC is grateful to Congress for their action in the ARP, there is still more that can be done to support home care and hospice patients, and the providers of care.

NAHC will continue to prioritize further suspension of the Medicare sequester, and passage of the HEAT Act that would provide for telehealth reimbursement in home health, and the Choose Home proposal that would create an enhanced home health benefit

NAHC’s View

NAHC appreciates Congress’ continued work towards meeting the demands of the pandemic. In particular, the dedicated funding for Medicaid home and community-based services will ensure home care recipients can continue to receive care in the safest possible environment, their home. Likewise, the increased provider relief funding for rural providers will prove to be a lifeline for patients and providers alike to continue care delivery in rural areas. NAHC appreciates the late change on this provision extending eligibility to providers that serve rural areas, not just those located in rural areas.

This update was brought to us by…

Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home
https://www.cthealthcareathome.org/

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