Restrictions related to Covid-19 particularly impact elders and people with disabilities

Everything is happening so fast it’s making our heads spin. The frail, dependent aged and disabled people in our communities are having a tough time of it. Starting today, Social Security Offices are only accepting telephone contacts and online contacts. COVID – 19 SSA press release     Health care providers are overwhelmed. County welfare offices are urging people to do their business on-line and avoid coming into the offices. Based on the CDC guidelines – click HERE — nursing facilities are barring the door except for end-of-life situations, and preventing concerned family members from entering the facility to oversee the care being provided. There are inadequate quantities of protective gear for the staff members who are caring for nursing home residents or patients who need home health care. Staffing levels are being affected. Under proposed regulations by the federal government, nursing homes will be able to cut their infectious disease staffs in  the interest of “less regulation.” What will this mean for the safety of the residents, in terms of infection control, potential bedsores, fall prevention and more?

Meanwhile, applications for crucial government benefits must be processed and new applications continue to flow in. County offices that are processing MLTSS/medicaid applications still expect people to produce missing documents in ten days under threat of a denial of eligibilityThe paperwork requirements for certain programs is staggering. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued CMS FAQs that enable States to to address some current issues raised by this crisis. CMS covd-19-faqs-20200312 Clearly there’s a need for the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) to exercise its muscle and  ease certain requirements as an accommodation to the present emergency. I’m not talking about the core standards for eligibility, but rather, the reams of paper documentation that are required to prove eligibility for MLTSS/medicaid. The State could direct the counties to ease up on the short deadlines they give to the applicants to submit requested verifications. The State could direct the counties to accept reasonable explanations that show the impossibility of complying with a request. For example. if the applicant is mentally incapacitated and house-bound, and the Agent under Power of Attorney has contracted the corona virus or is quarantined, it may be utterly impossible to obtain some requested bank records or to produce proof about some transaction happened several years ago.

So many issues need to be urgently addressed so that people in need of benefits will not be denied due to inability to meet administrative requirements. And there needs to be a way to assure those who watch over their loved ones in nursing facilities to still be able to perform that crucial role.

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