Situation Report | March 1, 2021
A $1.9 trillion stimulus package won House approval on Saturday. It now goes to the Senate where leaders hope to pass the bill and get it to President Biden for his signature before enhanced unemployment benefits expire on March 14.
The measure faces some hurdles in the Senate, which is more closely divided by party lines than the House, and where some contentious items, like a proposed minimum wage hike, may run into parliamentary obstacles that require a 60-vote supermajority for passage.
As we reported in last week’s edition of the Situation Report, HCA recently joined a letter led by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) urging Congress to increase payment rates from federally funded programs in conjunction with any increase to the minimum wage as a means to offset agencies’ increased labor cost.
Aid to New York
The federal aid package has a direct bearing on New York’s budget this year, and unusually so.
The Governor’s budget proposal was built on the assumption that the federal government would provide at least $6 billion in aid to New York State’s coffers at a time when the Governor says the state is facing a $15 billion deficit. Under that calculation, the Governor’s proposed budget nevertheless still includes the continuation and augmentation of prior 1.5-percent across-the-board Medicaid cuts — which would rise to a 2.5 percent impact in the coming fiscal year — along with 50 percent cuts in workforce recruitment and retention funds, plus other measures to bridge the full estimated $15 billion gap.
The House bill reportedly includes $12 billion in aid to New York. While this amount is more promising than what the Governor assumed in his proposed budget, it remains to be seen whether the doubling of expected aid — if it passes the Senate at that level — will result in the withdrawal of proposed state budget cuts, as HCA has urged.
The House package also includes an additional 10 percent to the federal share of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) through the end of the public health emergency which would reportedly include funds for home and community-based programs and public health departments. It also contains another round of stimulus checks, the extension of expanded weekly unemployment benefits, dozens of public assistance provisions, targeted aid to local county and city governments, as well as funds for vaccines, testing and tracing, school reopening, and much more.
HCA will continue to keep the membership apprised of all critical developments on the federal front.