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At the Capitol: Senate Hearing on Elderly Waiver and Vaccine Requirements

The Senate Human Services Reform and Finance Committee recently met to address a wide array of topics that included Elderly Waiver implementation and vaccine requirements in various long-term care settings.

Overall, some committee members expressed concern regarding the vaccine mandate in senior care settings and how it could potentially exacerbate workforce shortages, quality of care, and the ability of organizations to stay open.

Elderly Waiver Implementation
As a result of last-minute changes during the 2021 special legislative session, policy surrounding Elderly Waiver implementation has had adverse effects on assisted living providers. In particular, participants that qualify for the Community Access for Disability Inclusion Waiver (CADI) were excluded from the rate floor, making it very challenging financially for assisted living sites to serve these types of enrollees. Consequently, some assisted living providers may be unable to serve CADI enrollees altogether, especially considering the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) cannot make an administrative policy change to include CADI members as part of the rate floor. LeadingAge Minnesota is working with MDH and providers to find a solution outside the legislative session to avoid any lapses in service to CADI enrollees.

Long-Term Care Setting Vaccine Requirement
On Aug. 18, President Biden's administration announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will develop an emergency regulation that mandates staff at nursing homes receive COVID-19 vaccination. Committee members asked MDH during the hearing for more details on the federal mandate; however, very little is known about how it will be implemented, funding implications, timelines, and exemption policies. MDH representatives mentioned that they sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and CMS highlighting concerns on how the mandate will affect the long-term care workforce and encouraging federal support and policy flexibility to avoid care consequences. LeadingAge Minnesota is working closely with our national affiliates to advocate on behalf of providers and will share any additional information as soon as we have it.

What’s Ahead
On Oct. 6, the Senate Committee on Human Services Reform and Finance Policy will meet again to continue discussing Elderly Waiver implementation and the vaccine mandate effects on long-term care settings and their ability to provide services. Make sure to watch the committee hearing here and stay tuned for updates from your LeadingAge Minnesota public affairs team on how you can add your voice to advocate for seniors and their caregivers.

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