News: Medicaid access rule review completed by White House

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A proposed federal rule that would establish mandatory quality measures for home and community-based services and require providers to allocate 80% of HCBS payments to direct care worker reimbursements is one step closer to completion.

The White House Office of Management and Budget Information and Regulatory Affairs has completed the so-called Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Review of the Medicaid Access Rule, respectively on the agency’s website.

The review, which began in January, ended yesterday. No further details were available, but CMS has indicated it plans to Issue a final rule this month

The federal agency said the rule is intended to “support and stabilize the direct care workforce” in home and community-based settings, but previously said several senior living care industry advocacy groups That it could ultimately lead to fewer jobs, stagnant pay for caregivers, and reduced seniors’ access to HCBS—exactly the opposite of what the government intends.

Also, the quality measures that are part of the proposed rule have the potential to burden assisted living providers financially and administratively, some groups said in comments to the federal agency.

The American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum, LeadingAge and the National Center for Assisted Living were among more than 2,000 groups and individuals who submitted comments to CMS on the rule, officially titled “The Medicaid Program; Ensuring Access to Medicaid Services,” which the agency proposed last April.

While advocacy groups said they generally support the intent behind the proposed rule and its provisions, such as a living wage for direct care workers, a common thread among their comments was disagreement over the cost requirements.

In February, 11 Republican senators sent a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-Lasur sharing their concerns that the rule could reduce seniors’ access to services and hinder providers’ workforce retention.

Last week, the White House concluded a review of another rule for high-interest providers that would create a new barrier to overtime pay. A final overtime rule is also expected to be released this month.

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