National MS Society Urges Congress to Address Key MS Priorities in Upcoming COVID-19 Legislative Package
July 15, 2020
The National MS Society has urged Congressional leadership to include key priorities that will help people affected by MS in the next Congressional legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent survey to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with MS has informed the Society’s recommendations to Congress on the scope and needs that must be addressed in the next Congressional COVID-19 legislation. The top needs and questions of survey respondents related to COVID-19 and MS centered on medical questions (risk of contracting COVID-19), concerns about neighborhood and physical environment (access/affordability of housing, social distancing rules, stay at home orders and transportation), and healthcare related questions and concerns (access to health care providers, medication, insurance and telehealth).
Based on our survey, the National MS Society recommends the following provisions be included in the next COVID-19 legislative package:
Ensure access to health coverage and care:
Ensure economic security:
- Enact a special enrollment period for the healthcare.gov marketplace, to provide equal access to comprehensive healthcare coverage for all Americans and not just those who lost coverage or live in a state that opened their marketplace.
- Provide premium subsidies for COBRA continuation of coverage to minimize disruptions in treatment as done in the past.
- Reduce regulatory barriers that inhibit access to treatments and medications, therefore freeing up providers from unnecessary utilization management requirements.
- Include the bipartisan and bicameral agreement to end surprise billing from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and ensure that surprise billing protections apply to all providers within a facility if that facility accepts Public Health and Social Services Emergency funds.
- Provide an additional 10% FMAP increase specifically dedicated to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) to strengthen the readiness and capacity of providers.
Protect charitable non-profit organizations:
- Implement automatic stabilizers to keep expanded critical safety-net programs (including unemployment insurance, food assistance, and Medicaid assistance, among others) available to those who need it for the duration of the public health and economic crisis.
- Prohibit states from weakening Medicaid Maintenance of Effort or dropping HCBS. To address budget challenges, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) should be increased to 14%.
- Provide state and local governments the financial resources necessary to address exponentially expanding health coverage and care needs including the ability to ensure accessible voting in time for the 2020 election.
- Enable non-profit organizations to continue their life-changing work by ensuring they are eligible for forgivable loans regardless of size and increase incentives for charitable giving to these organizations.
- Provide at least $2 billion in emergency bridge-funding to ensure that non-profit funded research that is currently stalled due to COVID-19 can resume once researchers can return to their lab.
to read the Society’s letter to Congressional leadership.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.