July 31, 2020

Senators Warren, Casey, Colleagues Urge Inclusion of Home and Community-Based Services Funding for Seniors and People with Disabilities in Future COVID-19 Legislation

Key Provisions Would Ensure that 12 Million Americans Maintain or Gain Access to Critical HCBS Services and Supports

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urging him to include key provisions related to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) in any future COVID-19 relief package. With seniors and people with disabilities accounting for a disproportionate percentage of all COVID-19 deaths, the senators emphasized the need for expanded access to HCBS as a necessary tool in keeping safe those who are most at-risk for contracting the virus. Senators Warren and Casey were joined by 27 Democratic colleagues. 

In their letter, the senators recommended investing in Medicaid HCBS and including key provisions from the House-passed HEROES Act in upcoming legislation – namely, those providing states with Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increases to ensure they can support expanded HCBS. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are almost 800,000 people across the country on wait-lists to receive home-based care and services through Medicaid.

“As our country has aged, HCBS has become a key method for making it possible for older adults to age at home in the community. HCBS has also made it possible for people with disabilities to live close to their families and friends, be active members of their communities and live lives as full citizens,” wrote the senators. “Almost five months into the pandemic, home and community based services are critically unstable. Many of the agencies providing HCBS are at risk of closing because of lack of funds. If services are discontinued, seniors and people with disabilities will be left with a false choice: remain at home without the care they need to live, but safe from the virus, or live in a congregate setting to receive the services necessary to live, but live in fear of contracting COVID-19. No individual should be forced to make this decision.” 

Senators Warren and Casey were joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wash.), Tim Kaine (D-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Senator Warren is a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, including during the current crisis. Recently, on April 29, Senators Warren, Casey, Gillibrand, Brown, Hassan, Duckworth, and their colleagues sent a letter urging House and Senate leadership to prioritize the needs of people with disabilities as House and Senate leadership negotiated a fourth stimulus package to mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 10, she and Senator Casey, along with a number of their colleagues, urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to protect people with disabilities and elderly Americans from discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Warren's Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act also includes a provision requiring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publicize data on how COVID-19 has impacted people with disabilities.