Today’s Policy Round-Up includes:
- Don’t miss it: Applications for home-modification grants to support aging in place due Oct. 13
- New guidance from Dept. of Education and HHS: Meeting requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Input needed: Proposed rule to make it easier to enroll in Medicaid and keep coverage
- Input needed: Promoting Efficiency, Reducing Burden, and Advancing Equity within CMS Programs
- ICYMI: White House fact sheet: Updated COVID-19 vaccines; managing COVID-19 this fall
Time is almost up: Applications for home-modification grants to support aging in place due Oct. 13
Late last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new funding opportunity that makes $15 million available to help older adults age in place through home modifications. Experienced nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and public housing authorities with at least three years of experience in providing services to older adults are eligible to apply.
The goal is to enable low-income older adults to remain in their homes rather than move to nursing homes, assisted living, or other care facilities by providing home modifications that reduce their risk of falling, improve general safety, increase accessibility, and to improve their functional abilities in their home. Examples include installation of grab bars, railings, and lever-handled doorknobs and faucets, as well as the installation of adaptive equipment, such as temporary ramps, tub/shower transfer benches, handheld shower heads, raised toilet seats, risers for chairs and sofas, and non-slip strips for tubs, showers, and stairs.
Applications can be submitted through Grants.gov until October 13, 2022.
New guidance from Dept. of Education and HHS: Meeting requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Head Start encourages collaboration between state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and Head Start programs to effectively meet the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements. The guidance makes clear that SEAs, LEAs, and Head Start programs all have responsibilities for implementing IDEA to ensure that children with disabilities enrolled in Head Start programs receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
- Dear Colleague Letter on Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Services in Head Start
- Guidance on Creating an Effective Memorandum of Understanding to Support High Quality Inclusive Early Childhood Systems
Input Needed: Proposed rule to make it easier to enroll in Medicaid and keep coverage
On September 7, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a proposed rule that would simplify applications, verifications, enrollment, and renewals for health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Comments can be submitted by mail or online until 5 p.m. on November 7, 2022.
Medicaid has different requirements depending on which category of eligibility you are in. The proposed rule would make changes to categories that are important for low-income older people and people with disabilities, particularly people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Many of these changes would align with simplifications that are already available to other eligibility groups. This fact sheet from CMS explains the changes.
Input needed: Promoting Efficiency, Reducing Burden, and Advancing Equity within CMS Programs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public input on accessing health care and related challenges, understanding provider experiences, advancing health equity, and assessing the impact of waivers and flexibilities provided in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Comments can be submitted online until November 4, 2022.
The Request for Information (RFI) solicits comments on accessing health care and related challenges, examples of which include, among other things:
- Challenges accessing comprehensive and timely health care services and medication, including primary care, long-term care, home and community-based services, and mental health and substance use disorder services
- Perspectives on how CMS can better communicate quality standards and accessibility information to individuals, particularly those with social risk factors
CMS also seeks information to help the agency understand provider experiences. Some examples include:
- Feedback regarding compliance with payment policies and quality programs, such as provider enrollment requirements on health care worker participation in underserved populations, and what improvements can be made
- Factors that influence providers’ willingness or ability to serve certain populations, particularly those that are underserved and individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid
The agency also seeks input identifying CMS policies that can be used to advance health equity, including, among other things:
- Recommendations on how CMS can better promote and support accommodations, including those from providers and health plans, for people with disabilities and/or language needs or preferences
- Input on how CMS might encourage mitigating potential bias in technologies or clinical tools that rely on algorithms, and how to determine that the necessary steps have been taken to mitigate bias
- Input on how CMS coverage and payment policies impact providers, suppliers, and patients, especially in the treatment of chronic conditions and the delivery of substance use disorder and mental health care, including individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid
- Feedback on enrollment and eligibility processes, including experiences with enrollment and opportunities to communicate with eligible but unenrolled populations
Finally, CMS seeks input on the impact of waivers and flexibilities issued during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and recommendations for CMS policy and program focus areas to address health disparities, including:
- Requested waivers/flexibilities to make permanent
- Any unintended consequences of CMS actions during the PHE
- Opportunities for CMS to reduce any health disparities that may have been exacerbated by the PHE
CMS encourages comments from all stakeholders, but particularly beneficiaries and their families, providers, clinicians, consumer advocates, and health care professional associations. CMS also encourage comments from individuals serving and located in underserved communities and from all CMS stakeholders serving populations facing disparities in health and health care.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – White House fact sheet: Updated COVID-19 vaccines; managing COVID-19 this fall
On September 8, the Biden Administration released a fact sheet outlining its plan to get Americans their updated COVID-19 vaccine shot this fall, to ensure that the nation continues to effectively manage COVID-19 and minimize its disruptions, and to stay prepared for whatever may come. The Administration’s plan includes an effort to ensure new, updated vaccines targeting the Omicron strain of COVID are widely available, easily accessible, and free. Everyone age 12 years and older is eligible for these updated vaccines at least two months after their primary series or their most recent booster. Given the potential for cases to increase in the fall and winter, it is critical that Americans get a new, updated COVID-19 vaccine to stay protected.