April Advocacy Update

 

April was certainly a whirlwind month for legislative activity, at both the State and Federal levels. COVID-19 shifted priorities across the board and changed how we’re doing advocacy too.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s been happening in April…

Federal

The Federal government has remained focused on preparing packages that address the needs of individuals and businesses across the country. So far, there have been four packages, with pieces that directly impact disability services in each one. Key highlights from the packages:
• Telehealth services authorized.
• Hospital Bill passed (allows states to reimburse agencies for staffing DSPs with clients in the hospital during short-term hospitalizations). This bill was championed by MN Rep.Tom Emmer, who represents District 6 which includes 6 MORA residential homes. Thank you Rep. Emmer for your work on this!!!
• Public Health and Social Services Safety Fund was filled (Medicaid-funded disability service providers like MORA have not yet gotten any $$ from this fund. ANCOR is currently working around the clock on Capitol Hill to advocate for us to be included when the next disbursement of funds happens.)
• Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) received an emergency bump of 6.2%. (Medicaid expenditure expenses are split between the Federal and State governments. FMAP is the federal government’s share of most Medicaid expenditures.)
• Money Follows the Person (MFP) program extended. (This program is designed to move individuals with disabilities out of institutional settings and into home and community-based settings.)
• Emergency Small Business Loans available (MORA applied for and was granted a PPP loan as well as a FEMA grant).

Tracy Murphy and I, along with Sara Grafstrom from ARRM, had conference calls with Rep. Tom Emmer and the legislative aide for Rep. Angie Craig to advocate for additional funding to help us through this crisis, and to get funding for disability providers from the public health fund mentioned above.

State

COVID hit in the middle of the State legislative session. While the legislature has been trying to work on conducting business as usual, most of it has been done from a distance and they too have focused on packages to provide relief to MN citizens and businesses. Key highlights include:
• Some licensing regulations have been suspended or loosened during the pandemic.
• COVID-19 fund created to help pay expendetures related to the peacetime emergency declared by Gov. Walz.
• Small Business Emergency Loan program received $30 million.
• ARRM’s 3 policy initiatives (info on those here) were included in an omnibus bill passed out of the Senate. The policy initiatives are also included in the House omnibus bill right now but, the House Health and Human Services Committee still needs to make some amendments and pass the bill out.
• The MN legislative session must adjourn no later than Monday, May 18, according to the state constitution.

We will continue to work with ARRM and our state legislature on advocacy efforts. I have been participating in virtual town halls when I’m able, and once the session comes to a close, I will be reaching out to schedule virtual visits with legislators for our districts.

THANK YOU to everyone who has helped with the advocacy alerts that have been coming out! We will continue to pass these on as we get them. Please know your voice matters and your help with this does too!

If you would like to get involved with grassroots advocacy at MORA or learn more, please reach out to me directly: nstorebo@mtolivet-mora.org or 952-401-4859.