February 9, 2021
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representative
Washington, D.C. 20515
On behalf of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare’s millions of members and supporters, I write to strongly urge you to include H.R. 525, the COVID Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act of 2021 (introduced by Representative Debbie Dingell) in the coronavirus relief package you are currently considering as budget reconciliation legislation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 39 percent of COVID deaths were reported among long-term care facility residents and staff members in the United States. Given the high risk of infection from COVID-19 in nursing homes, it is imperative that dedicated funding be allocated for vital home- and community-based services that allow seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe in their own homes.
State Medicaid HCBS programs are under enormous strain as state governments respond to the COVID crises by cutting waiver services. State Medicaid agencies do so because under Federal Medicaid law HCBS services are optional. Absent sufficient funding to operate all their programs, states prioritize mandatory Medicaid programs.
Congress should create a dedicated funding stream for Medicaid HCBS by targeting a 10 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages enhancement for these services as proposed in the COVID HCBS Relief Act.
As potent variant strains of COVID emerge that may be vaccine resistant, it is critical for Congress to act now to enable as many seniors as possible to receive long-term services and supports in their homes. For that reason, I urge you to include H.R. 525 in the budget reconciliation legislation you are marking up this week.
President and CEO