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Stakeholders mine American Rescue Plan for relief opportunities

Stakeholders mine American Rescue Plan for relief opportunities ‘HME can be and should be included’

David ChandlerWASHINGTON – The payer relations team at AAHomecare is working with its association partners to craft a letter asking state governments to include HME in their allocation of millions of dollars in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion act, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, in March, providing, among other things, $195.3 billion to states and the District of Columbia to help them cover increased expenditures, replenish lost revenue and mitigate economic harm from the pandemic. 

“It is definitely something that HME can be and should be included in,” said Laura Williard, vice president of payer relations for AAHomecare. “In terms of mitigating the harm from the pandemic, we have been on the front lines and continue to be.” 

The team has already been working with the Florida Alliance of Home Care Services to get lawmakers in that state to include HME as part of its second allocation later this year. 

While the “ask” may differ in each state, in most states, like in Florida, it will most likely be a certain percentage increase for claims payments for the past year of the pandemic, Williard says. 

“It’s a one-time funding opportunity – it can’t be recurring spending,” she said, “and it has to be for specific items. So, we’re trying to come up with reasonable asks around that and come up with a few suggestions.” 

AAHomecare and its association partners are also crafting a letter asking state governments to include HME in another part of the act – a temporary 10% increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for certain home and community-based services (HCBS) for Medicaid beneficiaries from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022. 

“The main focus of this is to pay for items that enhance the HCBS benefit but that have not been paid for previously,” Williard said. “There is also a potential of asking for temporary rate increases, depending on the state.” 

The 10% increase to the FMAP also serves as a bargaining chip for the team in its conversations with states that seek to decrease reimbursement for HME. For states to remain eligible for the increase, they must maintain rates at no less than those in effect on April 1, 2021. 

“I testified at a rate hearing for Texas Medicaid, which has put out some proposed rate changes, including some double-digit decreases for some DME,” said David Chandler, senior director of payer relations for AAHomecare. “We included in our argument that, if they move forward, they may be ineligible.”


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