July 30, 2020

Congressmen Neguse and Perlmutter Lead Letter Requesting Support and Flexibility for Colorado Medicaid Providers Amidst COVID-19

The letter requests HCPF flexibility to continue retainer payments for an additional 90 days 

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, along with the entire bipartisan Colorado delegation, have sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting extended flexibility for Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to provide retainer payments to Medicaid Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) providers throughout the state of Colorado. The letter asks for an extension of the period in which HCPF may provide retainer payments to long-term care providers for whom services may no longer be rendered due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colorado was among the first states to issue retainer payments in mid-March, and HCBS providers were given limited notice that the payments would be terminated by CMS. These payments are crucial to protecting Colorado’s medically-vulnerable citizens and to sustaining Colorado’s Medicaid providers.

“As the pandemic introduces significant uncertainty to Medicaid programs, clear and consistent guidance from CMS on this authority is critical for providers to continue to structure operations to their members’ unique needs,” reads the letter from the lawmakers. “We request CMS continue flexibility for states and extend the period under which HCPF may provide retainer payments to providers for an additional 90 days and ask CMS to give a minimum 60-day notification prior to any change in policy leading to the termination of this authority. These payments are essential to maintaining provider solvency and ensuring staff members continue to receive salaries, facilitating services provided over video or telephonic methods, and positioning Colorado’s Medicaid providers to effectively respond to a post-pandemic setting.”

Along with Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, the bipartisan letter was signed by Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Representatives Diana DeGette, Jason Crow, Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn.

“We applaud HCPF and the Colorado Delegation for stepping up to ensure that people with disabilities continue to receive vital services during the COVID-19 pandemic. As infections spread in the state, retainer payments have been a critical lifeline, providing flexibility and allowing people with disabilities to receive services in non-group settings – critical to the  health and safety of aging caregivers and people with disabilities,” said Christiano Sosa, Executive Director at the Arc of Colorado. “We look forward to a robust system of providers and services when the pandemic subsides. The actions taken by the Congressional Delegation this week were timely, responsive and reflect our shared desire to provide the right supports, at the right time, and in the right way.”

“Colorado has been a leader in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their providers during the pandemic. This letter supported by the state's entire Congressional delegation further demonstrates that bipartisan leadership,” said Josh Rael, Executive Director of Alliance. “We are all in this together, and we hope that CMS will reconsider its policy so that we can continue to keep people safe while maintaining the service infrastructure in the months to come.”

“As strong advocates for Home and Community Based Services that keep folks in their homes and services where they most need them – in central, accessible locations, we strongly support this letter and urge CMS to reverse course on this decision,” said Dawn Russell, a Colorado-based American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT) Advocate. “During this time it is certainly critical to reduce medically-vulnerable communities’ interaction with the health system, but this is an issue of equality that matters in the long-run too. We appreciate the Colorado delegation drawing attention to these critical services.”

The letter is also supported by Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, ARC of Larimer County and the Colorado-Cross Disability Coalition.

Read the full letter here.