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Congress Ready to Deliver $250 Million in OAA Nutrition Funding

The House has passed and the Senate is considering a second emergency bill to respond to COVID-19, which, thanks to advocacy from n4a, our members and other national aging organizations, includes significant funding for Older Americans Act nutrition programs. n4a is also pushing for a future package to include a boost to OAA III B Supportive Services, among other policy proposals and funding requests to get the Aging Network the direct support it needs to support older adults and caregivers during this crisis.

The bill's $250 million dollars in new funding for nutrition is broken down as follows: $80 million for OAA III C1 congregate, $160 million for III C2 home-delivered meals, and $10 million for Title VI Native American aging programs Part A. State matching requirements won't be required of this emergency funding. While the funding is provided through the traditional OAA formula funding mechanism out to states and ultimately to AAAs, since we are now under a national emergency declaration, states have authority under Sec. 310(c) to use all OAA funds flexibly—without need of a waiver from AoA/ACL (see ACL's latest guidance for details).

The bill (H.R. 6201) also includes paid sick leave for some workers and a 6.2 percent bump in state's Medicaid federal medical assistance percentages (FMAP). States would have to provide coverage of coronavirus testing without cost sharing and meet other criteria, such as not imposing more stringent eligibility standards or additional premiums. Additionally, states could cover tests for uninsured people through their Medicaid programs and receive a 100 percent FMAP to cover the cost.

Insurers would be required to cover coronavirus tests and related services, such as provider visits for testing, without cost-sharing or prior authorization requirements. The cost-sharing prohibition would also apply to Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, veterans' health programs, the Indian Health Service and coverage provided to federal civilian employees.

The bill would appropriate $1 billion to allow the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse provider costs associated with testing uninsured individuals.

Medicare currently covers testing without any patient cost-sharing. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote in March 12 guidance that states can modify their Medicaid plans to eliminate cost-sharing for certain services, such as COVID-19 tests, as long as their policy applies regardless of the diagnosis. The federal emergency declaration of March 13 will also give states more flexibility in their programs.

The measure would waive federal work requirements for SNAP eligibility. The waiver would begin the first full month after the bill is enacted and terminate at the end of the first full month after a federal coronavirus-related emergency declaration is lifted. State-imposed work requirements wouldn't be changed, but a person's participation in SNAP during the emergency couldn't be counted for determining compliance with work requirements.

States that make their own emergency or disaster declarations related to COVID-19 could request emergency allotments of food aid to support increased participation in SNAP and address temporary food needs. The provision wouldn't change the maximum monthly allotment for any household size. States would have to provide data sufficient to demonstrate the need for additional aid.

Source: Bloomberg Government

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