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During the month of October, AgrAbility projects from 20 states (including Wisconsin) nationwide will join together to participate in an AgrAbility Virtual State Fair online. This is a great opportunity to provide resources and information to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers who are working in production agriculture with a disability while also raising awareness about the project and the good they do throughout the year. The National AgrAbility Project is involved with farmers who have a disability, functional limitation, or health condition. 

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Recently, the Biden Administration has leveraged disability rights. In this essay, the author discusses what this could mean for the future of disability advocacy and politics. This piece brings up some very interesting points. 

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Beginning November 1, 2021, Wisconsin Medicaid members who participate in eligible programs will be working with a new vendor, Veyo, to get transportation to their covered health care appointments. This benefit, referred to as non-emergency medical transportation or NEMT, is available when members lack access to transportation, require assistance because of disabilities, or have their appointments in locations or at times when public transportation is not available. The outgoing vendor, MTM, will continue to provide services through October 31. 

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ACL POLICY ROUND UP: CDC booster guidance


By SD Network, 2021-09-28

On Friday, CDC announced recommendations for boosters of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people who: are 65 and older, live in long-term care settings, are at high risk for severe illness, or work in a high-risk job. Today’s Policy Roundup includes those details, along with the following:

  • CMS guidance: ARP Act funding for Medicaid and CHIP (Coverage of habilitation services, COVID-19 testing and vaccination, and more).
  • Input needed: Medicare drug pricing rule
  • Input Needed: NQF Rural Telehealth and Healthcare System Readiness Measurement Framework
  • Medicare.gov Tool to Compare Nursing Home Vaccination Rates

CDC recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine boosters


On Friday, the CDC recommended booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people at highest risk of serious illness and those in high risk occupational and institutional settings. Specifically, CDC guidance now states that people who received their second shot at least six months ago:

Should receive a booster shot if they are:

May receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks, if they are:

  • 18–49 years old and have underlying medical conditions
  • 18–64 years year old, and at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting. The CDC website includes a complete list, but it includes front line healthcare workers and congregate care staff.

CDC will evaluate available data in the coming weeks to swiftly make additional recommendations for other populations, as well as for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved a booster vaccine for some people. Currently, Pfizer is the only one approved. People who live in congregational settings and those with underlying health conditions are among the people who can get the booster as of now. The CDC didn't specify workers who may qualify, but it is expected that direct care professionals will also qualify. 

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The direct care worker shortage has gone from a problem to a crisis. According to a recent survey, 82% of assisted living facilities and 89% of nursing homes report a moderate to severe shortage of staff. It isn't just facilities either - home care agencies are reporting the same problems. The pandemic just added to this issue. People feel the bottom line is that these workers need better pay. 

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Last month, President Biden mandated that nursing home staff get the COVID vaccine or they risk losing their Medicaid or Medicare funding. However, it doesn't include home health care workers. Home care workers make up 53% of the workforce caring for people with disabilities and older adults. Advocacy groups and nonprofits are not currently asking the Biden Administration to require vaccines for these people though. The fear is that this would only add to the workforce shortage crisis. 

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Today the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, & Engage (RAISE) Family Caregiving Advisory Council delivered its initial report to Congress. The culmination of a two-year, multi-faceted effort that gathered input from family caregivers across the country, the report provides an overview of many of the issues faced by family caregivers nationwide and provides recommendations for addressing them. 

The 26 recommendations fall under five goals: 
  • Increasing Awareness of Family Caregivers to increase public understanding of the contributions caregivers make, including helping individuals self-identify as caregivers so that they can get the support they need.
  • Engaging Family Caregivers as Partners in Healthcare and Long-Term Services and Supports to better integrate family caregivers into healthcare processes and systems.
  • Improving Access to Services and Supports for Family Caregivers including counseling, respite care, peer support, training on common in-home medical tasks, and practical assistance like transportation. Also included is a recommendation for strengthening the paid caregiver workforce.
  • Financial and Workplace Security for Family Caregivers to decrease the impact family caregiving can have on the financial well-being and professional lives of caregivers. 
  • Generating Research, Data, and Evidence-Informed Practices to help create policies and interventions that meaningfully help family caregivers.

The report also includes an inventory of federally funded efforts to support caregivers and interviews with 26 caregivers representing a range of caregiving situations and needs.

The recommendations from the report are the first step to developing a national strategy that will outline critical actions that can be taken at the federal and state levels and by local communities, philanthropic organizations, healthcare providers and providers of long-term services and supports, and others to better support family caregivers. 

More than 53 million people provide a broad range of assistance to support the health, quality of life, and independence of someone close to them. Millions of older adults and people with disabilities would not be able to live in their communities without this essential support, and replacing that support with paid services would cost an estimated $470 billion each year. 

While family caregiving is rewarding, it can be challenging, and when caregivers do not have the support they need, their health, well-being and quality of life often suffer. Their financial future can also be put at risk; lost income due to family caregiving is estimated at $522 billion each year. All of these challenges have been intensified during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 laid bare the need to address the urgent issues experienced by family caregivers,” said ACL Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging Alison Barkoff. “The pandemic exacerbated the challenges of family caregiving. Balancing work, family and caretaking became even more difficult, and in many cases, caregivers had to completely leave the workforce. The pandemic has created a new urgency and momentum to address caregiving.”

The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, & Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, (Public Law 115-119) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national family caregiving strategy. To inform that work, the RAISE Act also directed the establishment of the Family Caregiving Advisory Council providing recommendations on effective models of both family caregiving and support to family caregivers, as well as improving coordination across federal government programs. 

The Administration for Community Living is leading the implementation of the RAISE Act and facilitates the work of the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council. 

The John A. Hartford Foundation and the National Academy for State Health Policy also support the Council, including development of the initial report, by providing resources, technical assistance, and policy analysis. The National Alliance for Caregiving also supported development of the report, collecting and producing the interviews that bring the caregiver voice to the report. The interviews also can be seen in a series of videos.   

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Learn more about the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council at acl.gov/RAISE.

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