June 4, 2021

Florida Could Miss Deadline for $319M in Federal Funding for Home- and Community-Based Services Unless Gov, State Agencies Act Fast

A group of 31 organizations urge Gov. DeSantis to submit Florida’s plan for funds by the June 12 deadline

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Thirty-one organizations today called on Governor Ron DeSantis to act on Florida’s time-limited opportunity to receive a projected $319 million in additional federal Medicaid funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS). In a joint letter spearheaded by the non-profit Florida Policy Institute (FPI), the groups stress that HCBS are critical in helping Florida’s growing senior population and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and avoid or delay more costly nursing home or other institutional care.

The state must submit a spending plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by June 12, 2021, or request a 30-day extension by that date.

“The health and well-being of Floridians should be policymakers’ top priority as we begin the long road to recovery,” said FPI CEO Sadaf Knight. “Florida has a large share of seniors and medically-needy residents, groups that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Many have died in nursing homes. We cannot let this opportunity to beef up home- and community-based services go to waste.”

“As our state and nation continue to grapple with the lessons learned and truths told throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one undeniable realization that has been repeatedly underscored is the notion that vulnerable populations are better and more-safely served when fully-integrated into communities of their choosing with the supports and services needed to live independently,” said Peter Sleasman, executive director of Disability Rights Florida. “Florida should not miss this opportunity to receive the federal assistance necessary to begin combatting Medicaid’s long-standing ‘institutional bias’ through innovative initiatives and programming.”

“The number of seniors in Florida is skyrocketing, so the demand for home- and community-based services is heavy, as reflected by long waiting lists for such services,” said Bill Sauer, president of Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA). “The need to tap into additional federal dollars to support these services is urgent, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the 65-and-older population.”

CMS guidance includes examples for two kinds of HCBS investments that states could make with the added funds: helping address COVID-19 related HCBS needs, and redirecting Medicaid’s long-term services and supports away from institutional care in favor of HCBS.

In addition to FPI, Disability Rights Florida, and FLARA, the following organizations signed on to the letter: Alachua County Labor Coalition, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Broward for Progress, Budd Bell Clearinghouse on Human Services, Catalyst Miami, Central Florida Jobs With Justice, Comprehensive Recovery Solutions, Daystar Life Center Inc., Democratic Disability Caucus of FLORIDA, Florida Legal Services Inc., Florida Voices for Health, Hispanic Services Council Inc., Home Care Association of Florida, IDid Creations Inc., Latino Leadership Inc., League of Women Voters of Florida, LULAC FL, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association Inc., MARC, National Association Of Social Workers – Florida, Opportunity For All Floridians, Partnership for Aging of Palm Beach County, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Progress Florida Education Institute, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, The Common Ground Project, The Community Health Center of West Palm Beach, and UnidosUS.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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