In new guidance issued on May 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the deadline for states to comply with the HCBS rule by three years, to March 17, 2022. The guidance comes following a letter sent to governors by HHS Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma in March, which made recommendations for areas that states could look to to optimize their Medicaid programs. (See WICs article, "HHS Letter Sets Forth Framework for Medicaid Cost-Sharing Provisions, Extension of HCBS Rule Implementation," March 19, 2017.) That letter also indicated that CMS was working to provide additional time for states to comply with the HCBS rule. ANCOR sent a letter to CMS leadership in April, asking for, among other things, an extension of the original implementation deadline in the rule.
The new guidance says that promoting community integration of seniors and people with disabilities "remains a high priority" to CMS, but recognizes that states need additional time to properly and thoughtfully implement the requirements of the rule. The guidance says that "states should continue progress in assessing existing operations and identifying milestones for compliance that result in final Statewide Transition Plan approval by March 17, 2019 [the original deadline]". Currently, only one state, Tennessee, has received final approval of its statewide transition plan. The expectation is that other states would receive final approval no later than 2019, leaving the additional three years for transition activities rather than additional planning.