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State Proposes One-Time Payments to Medicaid HCBS Providers

State Proposes One-Time Payments to Medicaid HCBS Providers

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) yesterday formally applied for temporary federal funding to support Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS).

Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a stimulus package signed by President Biden in March, states are eligible to draw down a 10-percentage-point increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) matching funds. Federal guidance to state Medicaid directors stipulates that the funds must supplement — not supplant — the level of state funds expended for Medicaid HCBS through programs in effect as of April 1, 2021, with an objective to "enhance, expand, or strengthen the Medicaid HCBS program."

In the state's proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), AHCA outlined its plan to utilize the approximately $1 billion in funding. Specific to Medicaid home care providers, AHCA proposes one-time stipends to all Medicaid HCBS providers similar to relief funds distributed to Medicare providers last year. Additionally, AHCA proposes one-time provider retention payments to all Medicaid HCBS providers that employ direct service workers as an incentive to both recruit new workers and increase the retention rates of the direct care workforce. The estimated total cost for these expenditures is over $622 million.

HCAF has fervently advocated for the state to seek funding since the spring. In a letter to Florida Medicaid sent on April 7, we underscored the work of more than 76,000 Florida home care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the vital role of HCBS providers in the Medicaid program. Moreover, last month our policy team met with Medicaid Director Tom Wallace to reinforce the critical need for direct financial payments to providers to help offset increased costs and workforce shortage challenges compounded by the pandemic. Separate but related, HCAF joined more than 400 allied organizations in a letter to Florida's 29-member congressional delegation urging their support for President Biden's American Jobs Plan, which proposes further expansion of Medicaid HCBS to the tune of $400 billion.

"This is a significant and well-deserved win for Florida's Medicaid home care providers, who have valiantly served on the front lines since day one of the pandemic," stated HCAF Executive Director Bobby Lolley. "HCAF and its members applaud our state's leaders for answering our call and standing up for the Florida home care community."

CMS will approve state applications that meet the terms of the federal guidance within 30 days. HCAF remains in touch with AHCA officials and will continue to monitor the process.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

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