AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation applauds Gov. Abbott and Phil Wilson, HHSC Executive Commissioner, for their commitment to support front-line medical workers with a second Section 1135 waiver request submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

“We fully support removing barriers to make care more accessible for patients,” said David Balat, Director of the Right on Healthcare initiative with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Leadership at the highest levels of the state and our nation have continued to advocate for repealed, loosened, and suspended regulations so people can get the care they need now. Shouldn’t that be what’s best for patient care after this pandemic as well?” 

If approved, the new federal flexibilities would include: 

  • Allowing fully trained, qualified nurse aides to provide home health and hospice services even if they have not been employed and paid as an aide within the preceding 24 months, which will help expand the eligible pool of direct care workers and help providers facing any critical staffing shortages.  
  • Allowing non-clinical staff to provide feeding assistance to residents in nursing facilities without completing the required 16-hour training course. Since group meals are no longer served due to social distancing, additional feeding assistants are needed for one-on-one assistance. These assistants would be supervised and assigned only to non-complex cases. 
  • Allowing individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Home and Community-based Services and Intermediate Care Facility programs to temporarily receive their same services in either setting. This will give providers greater flexibility to meet staffing and resource challenges while continuing to provide critical services in both programs.