NHC Comments on the Home and Community Based Services Act of 2021

By Maddie Mason, Senior Associate, Policy 

In March 2021, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) released a discussion draft on the Home and Community Based Services Act (HAA) of 2021 and asked for public input. The National Health Council (NHC) responded to the draft and applauded the bill for granting those with chronic diseases and disabilities the ability to receive the care they need in their homes and community. 

It is important to offer people with chronic conditions the ability to receive Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) as it allows them to more independently conduct a multitude of vital functions that many of us take for granted, such as being able to work, go to school, prepare meals, eat, bathe, manage money and medications, and so much more.  

There has been limited access to HCBS for far too long, and that has led to the build-up of long waiting lists to receive these services in many states. The HAA will directly aid patients, as it ensures that HCBS will be mandatory as opposed to optional. Additionally, it would eliminate the waiver system for these services making them even more accessible. 

The NHC offered the following suggestions to help strengthen the discussion draft: 

  1. Create a constant feedback loop and monitoring access to HCBS to ensure the new system is being operationalized properly; 
  2. Conduct annual reviews of the types and scope of HCBS accessed by Medicaid recipients; and 
  3. Make sure that Medicaid recipients maintain the ability to choose who they employ as direct support professionals, as it is immensely important that people can hire their choice because this intimate relationship must be protected.  

For more information, please read our letter. If you have any questions, please reach out to Jennifer Dexter, Director, Policy.