LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, November 6, 2020


The Lutheran Services in America Strength & Service Series

Upcoming Series Webinar Dec. 2, 1–2 p.m. EST: Book Launch with LSA’s own Héctor Colón — “From Boxing Ring to Boardroom: 5 Essential Virtues for Life and Leadership”

Join us as we hear from Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan’s president and CEO, Hector Colón, about his experiences overcoming adversity to achieve personal and professional success in international boxing and as a nonprofit leader, as discussed in his book, “From Boxing Ring to Boardroom: 5 Essential Virtues for Life and Leadership.” Register here.

Honoring Our Front Line Heroes

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network. This week we are launching a new digital booklet that offers every inspiring entry to date in our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer 2020 issue highlights the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, and is just the first collection in what will be a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find the summer issue and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Caitlyn Gudmundsen ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

HHS Accepting Applications for Phase 3 Provider Relief Funding Through November 6th

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)--Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) $20 billion in New Phase 3 Provider Relief funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic continues to take applications for relief through November 6th. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments may apply for additional funding that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020 are invited to apply, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic are eligible for relief payments.   HHS is making a large number of providers eligible for Phase 3 General Distribution funding, including providers who previously received, rejected or accepted a General Distribution Provider Relief Fund payment. Providers that have already received payments of approximately 2% of annual revenue from patient care may submit more information to become eligible for an additional payment.

CMS Announces $165 million in New Funding for Money Follows the Person Demonstration Programs

On September 23rd the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding is being provided to help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

According to CMS, this action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.

Advocacy Update

Timing For A COVID Relief Bill Remains Uncertain: In an about-face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he will work to pass a new COVID-19 relief package by year's end.  Last week he suggested that Congress might not take up the legislation until next year.  Timing may depend upon who wins the White House.  Should Joseph Biden win the presidency and with Democrats retaining their majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi may wait until well into next year to pursue a much larger relief package than McConnell and his Republican Senate colleagues have been willing to consider over the last several weeks.  Fundamental differences have remained between McConnell and Pelosi about state and local government relief, liability protections for providers and the over all size of the package.  In the last weeks the Senate has passed a $500 billion package, while the House a more than $2 trillion relief bill.   Lutheran Services in America continues to work with other nonprofit organizations to urge passage of a COVID-19 relief bill now with additional Paycheck Protection Program funding and other support to aid them through the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us in urging lawmakers to provide additional nonprofit relief NOW by clicking here. Coronavirus Resources Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have.


Feds Push States To Prioritize Community-Based Services

Medicaid officials are encouraging states to accelerate efforts to “rebalance” long-term care offerings for people with disabilities to favor home- and community-based services over institutions.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a toolkit this week featuring examples of how states have expanded home- and community-based services and decreased reliance on institutional care.

The 66-page toolkit includes models and best practices for increasing transitions from institutions to the community, diverting people from segregated settings, making sure that state policies align with the market of service providers and improving community living for beneficiaries receiving Medicaid home- and community-based services.

More from Disability Scoop

US telehealth use flattens on a national scale, but that doesn't mean it's here to stay

Telehealth visits accounted for just below 6.1% of all medical claims in August among privately insured patients—up only slightly from 6% in July, according to Fair Health's tracking.

This plateau in use rates follows month-to-month dips in telemedicine claims from April–May and May–June as lockdown requirements lifted—but it's important to note the massive year-over-year spikes in usage: Telehealth made up less than 0.2% of all claim lines in August 2019—thus, August 2020's numbers mark a 3,471% annual increase. There's an undeniable plateau in US telemedicine claim lines, but the numbers show regional coronavirus outbreaks are still fueling heightened uptake. 

More from Business Insider

Education Department Addresses Special Ed Concerns Related To COVID-19

With two new guidance documents, federal education officials are clarifying issues facing both young children with disabilities and those transitioning to adulthood amid the pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Education issued question-and-answer documents in recent weeks aimed at two very different groups — infants and toddlers with disabilities who are just starting their educational journey, as well as transition-age students and adults receiving services through vocational rehabilitation.

The guidance comes in response to questions the Education Department has received from stakeholders across the country about how to provide services to those with disabilities in light of COVID-19. More from Disability Scoop

McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he expects Congress to move another coronavirus relief package “right at the beginning” of 2021, breaking from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who told reporters Thursday she wants to get a deal in the lame-duck session.

“We probably need to do another package, certainly more modest than the $3 trillion Nancy Pelosi package. I think that’ll be something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year,” McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday.

“We could target it particularly at small businesses that are struggling, and hospitals that are now dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus, and of course the challenges for education, both K-12 and college,” the GOP leader said.

More from The Hill


State Question 814 results: Oklahoma voters reject TSET changes to Help Fund Medicaid Expansion

Mere months after Oklahomans voted to expand Medicaid, they rejected an option to help pay for the state’s share of the expansion.

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly opposed State Question 814 to redirect a portion of Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust funds to help pay for the state’s 10% share of Medicaid expansion.

SQ 814 asked voters to amend Oklahoma’s constitution to reduce from 75% to 25% the amount of tobacco settlement funds going to TSET. Oklahoma’s GOP-controlled Legislature referred SQ 814 to the ballot at the end of the 2020 legislative session.

More from The Oklahoman

In New Jersey Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Overhauling Paratransit Practices

Gov. Phil Murphy Oct. 30 signed legislation (S2517), establishing a program to adopt paratransit best practices, requiring greater coordination among paratransit service providers, and establishing regional paratransit coordinating councils. 

“Streamlining our paratransit services will finally guarantee our seniors and those with disabilities the safety, ease, reliability, and affordability they have long expected from New Jersey Transit,” stated Murphy. “Seniors and those living with disabilities deserve transportation services that accommodate their needs, and this program will be committed to doing exactly that.” 

“Since 2018, New Jersey Transit has been working aggressively to improve service to customers with disabilities through our indispensable Access Link service,” stated New Jersey Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “These efforts include the introduction last year of Access Link Online, which now allows customers to schedule rides, pre-pay fares electronically with EZ-Wallet, and check trip status and the estimated time of arrival of pick-up vehicles. This important legislation will help New Jersey Transit build on our many efforts to improve mobility and modernize service for our paratransit service, and we’re grateful for Gov. Murphy’s commitment to our Access Link customers.” 

More from Cape May County Herald


People with Disabilities Are At Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage Without the ACA Expansion

On November 10, 2020, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case that could invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the Medicaid expansion. Without the ACA, most people who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion would likely become uninsured, and states would lose access to the enhanced federal matching funds to finance this coverage. Many people who qualify for the ACA Medicaid expansion have a disability, despite that they do not meet the strict medical standard to qualify for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cash assistance benefits and therefore do not qualify for Medicaid on that basis. This data note presents the latest state-level data about nonelderly Medicaid adults who have disabilities but do not quality for SSI and considers the implications for their continued coverage if the ACA expansion is invalidated by the Court.

More from KFF


OP-ED in Pennsylvania: Averting painful legislative session will require unprecedented collaboration

If the Senate Republicans, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the Trump Administration fail to reach an agreement regarding the desperately needed second COVID-19 assistance package, the stage is set for a bitter funding battle in the Pennsylvania General Assembly as budget talks begin November 10, 2020.

State legislators have spent the last seven months hoping for leadership, financial help and guidance from the federal government before completing the state’s current fiscal year budget. Without assistance from the federal government, the commonwealth is facing a $5 billion hole in its budget that cannot be repaired without deep and irreparable harm to our state’s citizenry. 

More from York Dispatch

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
Dates TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
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  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, enCircle

Mary Mulliet
DN Treasurer
Vice President of Community Services, Samaritas

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America