Learn how you can take action on health care expansions, evictions, & more.
Learn how you can take action on health care expansions, evictions, & more.
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October 4, 2021 | Volume 25, No. 9 | Archives
Ongoing Incrementalism
In this Issue:
  • Big Bills Stall on the Hill & Health Reform Proposals are Meek…
  • Eviction Moratorium Overturned
  • USICH and HUD Launch House America Initiative
  • Substance Use Disorder Treatment Advocacy
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, Lessons Learned, and More...
  • Local Advocacy Spotlights
  • What We're Reading
Big Bills Stall on the Hill & Health Reform Proposals are Meek...
Last week Congress passed a bill to extend their budget deadline through December 3, averting a government shutdown, yet failed to meet their self-imposed deadline to raise the debt ceiling and pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Votes on both of these measures have been tied up with politics surrounding the separate $3.5 trillion partisan budget reconciliation package “Build Back Better” (latest bill textsummary). The drafted bill includes funding for many priority measures important to the HCH community. Learn more about health care provisions and the housing provisions in the latest $3.5 trillion bill.
While bill text isn’t yet final on the $3.5 trillion package (and is yet to pass the House and make its way to the Senate), the drafted text on “major” health care expansions are underwhelming so far, and many pieces are unlikely to make it through as the bill continues to be negotiated and expansions in Medicaid and Medicare are pitted against each other. See more about these provisions under Talking Points.
TAKE ACTIONNow is the time to weigh in with your members on Capitol Hill about taking advantage of this rare opportunity to be BOLD with the health care expansions. This is no time for tinkering at the edges.  Here are three ways every individual can take action:
  • Individuals call your Representative asking them to hold the line and include ALL the proposed health expansions in any final Build Back Better bill!
  • Individuals sign a petition organized by our partners at Healthcare-NOW! telling Congress:  "We need Medicare Expansion yesterday!"
  • Individuals write to your Senator urging them to be bold crafting legislation in this easy-to-use portal (template included, but customize your letter using the talking points below).
Health Care for the Homeless talking points for the health care expansion proposals in the budget reconciliation bill (customize these further with stats from your own program!)
TOP LINE POINT: We support any expansion of health care that benefits our patients. Yet, the expansion proposals currently on Capitol Hill fall extraordinarily short of what is necessary to end suffering and reduce health disparities. It is unconscionable that current proposals are being pared down -- such as delaying the start of dental, vision, and hearing services in Medicare through 2028 (seven years from now!). As our patients die on the streets, Congress debates the finer points of incremental coverage changes.
  • Expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing services would fill great gaps in care for people experiencing homelessness. Current House proposals stagger the start of these new benefits through 2028.
    • Access to insurance is one of the greatest barriers to accessing dental care for PEH, and lack of dental care often escalates to expensive emergencies for PEH.
    • There are large gaps in vision care for PEH.
    • Sensory impairment is a common cause for ER visits for PEH.
    • These are benefits that are possible to provide now and are needed nowwe can’t wait SEVEN years for basic care.
  • Lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 would benefit thousands of patients in the HCH community. Current House proposals cut this out entirely.
    • There were 76,211 HCH patients age 60-64 in 2020 (8% of all patients).
  • Providing a health insurance option in the Medicaid non-expansion states would improve access to care for over 120,000 patients in the HCH community. Current House proposals provide subsidies for people that fall in the coverage gap to help them buy a plan on the marketplace.
    •  In 2020, 121,095 patients (63% of total) in non-expansion states were uninsured. Overall, 85% of total HCH patients are under the federal poverty line.
  • *New* Council issue brief to use in your advocacy messaging (see state by state insurance coverage numbers!): Insurance Coverage at HCH Programs, 2020
Eviction Moratorium Overturned
Shortly after the Biden administration released a new federal eviction moratorium last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it, ruling that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overstepped their authority. The judgment means landlords can immediately begin evictions, impacting up to millions of tenants in states or cities that have no moratorium of their own (find a list of local eviction orders).
TAKE ACTIONRep. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA.) introduced legislation (H.R. 4307, S. 2776) that counters the Supreme Court ruling to give authority to HHS to enact an eviction moratorium. HCHs and other organizations are invited to join the Council in formally endorsing this legislation through this form.
Three more things the HCH community can do to prevent evictions: 1) Identify and advocate for state and local protections; 2) Connect clients/consumers to services and cash resources; and 3) Speak out about the health implications of evictions and poverty. See details here and learn more from our partners about what’s next following the court ruling. 
USICH and HUD Launch House America Initiative
The goal of this new initiative led by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, who is also the chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), is to encourage local leaders to maximize resources provided through the American Rescue Plan to re-house individuals and increase the nation’s affordable housing stock.  Watch the launch event here along with press coverage featuring local leaders. See your mayor or governor on this list of partners? Reach out to their office and ask how you can help! If not, call on your mayor/governor to join.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment Advocacy
This summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data showing overdose deaths rose approximately 30% in 2020 to 93,000 deaths- the deadliest year on record. Our advocacy continues for broader changes, such as those included in the MAT Act, which eliminates the X-waiver requirement to prescribe buprenorphine, and other measures to increase availability of harm reduction approaches. Part of this work includes becoming a Syringe Service Program (SSP). Are you already, or do you want to become, an SSP? If so, we want to talk with you—reach out to set up an informal 15 minute call with kleague@nhchc.org.
*New Research Alert* This publication shows the benefits of allowing Nurse Practitioners to prescribe treatment for Opioid use disorder, strengthening the call to remove scope of practice limitations. New CDC data on benzodiazepine fatalities stresses the importance of both increasing naloxone access and treating the full spectrum of substance use disorder beyond opioids.
COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, Lessons Learned, and More...
On September 9, the Biden Administration announced new vaccine mandates for health care facilities (to include health centers) and employers with 100+ employees. See our Council FAQ on this topic and check for regular updates as more information is forthcoming. These policy developments and other emerging issues related to COVID-19 are published in the biweekly COVID-19 Flash Blast. Don’t miss the most recent issue, which features a new issue brief COVID-19 & the HCH Community: Interim Lessons Learned from the Pandemic, summarizing the amazing work being done by the HCH community.
Local Advocacy Spotlights
Chicago, IL
Rodney Dawkins, consumer leader and advocate, seen protesting here in front of Chicago’s City Hall demanding that Mayor Lightfoot invest COVID relief money in communities and not big banks and police. Way to go, Rodney!
Baltimore, MD
The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Adrianne Todman, is pictured here with Kevin Lindamood, CEO of Baltimore’s Health Care for the Homeless, on her first in-person tour since taking office. Thanks to our member clinic in Baltimore demonstrating that housing is health care for our nation’s leaders! Media coverage here.
Miami, FL
David Peery, consumer advocate and member of NHCHC’s National Consumer Advisory Board, is quoted in the Miami Herald and is working to fight back against an anti-camping ordinance in Miami that criminalizes homelessness. Keep up the good fight, David!
Are you advocating and engaging with policymakers at the state or local level? Send us an email and we’ll feature you in the next Mobilizer!
What We're Reading
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Regina Reed, MPH
Health Policy Manager
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1337 
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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