Budget Blog

May 20, 2021 - Health Care Issues Update

By Stacey Mazer posted 05-20-2021 03:09 PM


CMS Issues Guidance on American Rescue Plan Funding for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services

On May 13, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on how states can receive enhanced funding, provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), to increase access to home and community based services (HCBS) for Medicaid beneficiaries. The guidance that was issued to states via a State Medicaid Director letter outlines the eligible services and parameters for which states can claim the increased federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), and provides examples of activities that states can implement to enhance, expand, or strengthen HCBS. States must use the federal funds attributable to the increased FMAP to supplement, not supplant, existing state funds expended for Medicaid HCBS in effect as of April 1, 2021. Section 9817 of ARPA provides states with a temporary 10 percentage point increase to the FMAP for certain Medicaid HCBS from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022 to improve these services under the Medicaid program. States will be permitted to use the state funds equivalent to the amount of federal funds attributable to the increased FMAP through March 31, 2024.


Administration Announces $7.4 Billion to Expand Public Health Workforce

The Administration announced that $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) will be used to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future challenges. The funds include $3.4 billion in new hiring for state and local public health departments, including at least $500 million for hiring school nurses; $400 million to launch the Public Health AmeriCorps; $337 million to strengthen the public health laboratory workforce pipeline; and $3 billion to prepare for future pandemics, including creation of a new program to modernize the public health workforce.


Medicaid & CHIP and the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data highlighting the continued impact the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is having on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries and utilization of health services.  The data show that, from March through October 2020, beneficiaries have foregone millions of primary, preventive, and mental health care visits due to the COVID-19 PHE, compared to the same time period in 2019. Although utilization rates for some treatments have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, mental health services show the slowest rebound.


SAMHSA Distributing $3 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funding

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is distributing $3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding for its mental health and substance use block grant programs. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) Program and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program (SABG) will disperse $1.5 billion each to states and territories, with the latter also awarding money to a tribe. This follows the March announcement of supplemental funding of nearly $2.5 billion for these programs.