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June 8, 2020

Latest on future federal funding tranches. According to AHCA today, in large part because of a letter from key Congressional leaders to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, the department is speeding up disbursement of a Medicaid-only tranche from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). This tranche, we are told, is likely to include ICFs/IID, Medicaid-only SNFs, and possibly ID/DD waiver providers. The next tranche is to cover assisted living communities, both private-pay and Medicaid, followed by another tranche targeted at facilities and geographic areas with greater COVID-19 exposure. Details on all these tranches, particularly the later ones, are lacking at this time. Relative to assisted living, AHCA/NCAL today wrote HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting help, including a $5 billion PRF allotment, personal protective equipment from FEMA, and prioritization for testing and funding for tests.

AHCA/NCAL guidance on safe re-opening. As OHCA members develop their policies for voluntarily re-opening ICFs/IID and assisted living communities to visitation, AHCA/NCAL's guidance on this topic could be useful. This material should be used in conjunction with the Director of Health order and the Health Department's guidelines. When the two conflict (e.g., indoor visitation), the state directives take precedence.

Email address for CMP grant questions. Last week, we reported the Department of Medicaid (ODM) received Controlling Board approval to pay out grants to SNFs for communications equipment to help patients and families stay in touch. ODM received hundreds of applications, and the applicants naturally have questions about the status of their applications. ODM asks that these questions be addressed to instead of to individual ODM staff members.

DODD DSP onboarding guidance extended. The Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) announced today that they extended until further notice previous guidance allowing condensed training for new direct support professionals (DSPs), online cardio-pulmonary resuscitation/first aid training, and the ability to employ new DSPs as long as criminal record checks are initiated within 10 calendar days. The initial guidance from March originally was set to expire on June 1, but DODD extended it because of the continued state of emergency.

NAHC Medicare home health survey. NAHC issued a follow-up to their initial survey conducted in mid-April on the ongoing and expected impact of COVID-19 on Medicare home health agencies. Together with the previous survey results, NAHC will use the data to support their advocacy in Congress and with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. NAHC's policy priorities include increased financial supports, adding telehealth as a reimbursable service, personal protective equipment priority status, and extending the rural add-on. OHCA encourages home health agency members to participate in this important survey as soon as possible.