A device used by the state of Ohio to track visits from home-care workers under Medicaid’s new electronic visit verification requirement. (Brooke LaValley/The Columbus Dispatch/TNS)

Federal officials are being asked to pause the rollout of a new requirement that care providers electronically check in when assisting people with disabilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Medicaid mandate known as electronic visit verification, or EVV, took effect in January 2020, but 49 states and Washington, D.C. were granted a one-year good faith extension giving them until January 2021 to come into compliance.

EVV originated in a 2016 law called the 21st Century Cures Act as a way to reduce Medicaid fraud. Under the requirement, six pieces of information are supposed to be electronically verified for any personal care or home health visit — the type of service performed, the date, the location, who’s providing the service, who’s receiving the service as well as the beginning and end time.

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States struggled to implement the program and it was already delayed once. Now, advocates say the pandemic is further hampering EVV.

“States just have not had time to invest any time or resources to it given COVID,” said Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at The Arc.

Officials with The Arc as well as ACCSES, the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, the Association of People Supporting Employment First, Easterseals, Goodwill Industries and United Cerebral Palsy are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to hold off on implementing EVV during the pandemic.

“While we understand the impetus for quality control that prompted the EVV requirements, ensuring their implementation during this time takes away vital staff time and resources from ensuring the health and survival of people with I/DD during this pandemic,” the groups wrote in a letter to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Calder Lynch, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services.

Specifically, the advocates say it’s unreasonable for direct support professionals who are already in short supply to be focused on training for EVV compliance at this time. And, they argue that states should not face financial penalties for failing to comply with EVV at a time when funding for disability services is critical.

Advocates are urging federal Medicaid officials to use emergency waivers, enforcement discretion and other tools to provide flexibility in EVV implementation.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that it is reviewing the advocates’ letter, but indicated that the agency lacks the statutory authority to delay EVV and any changes would require further action from Congress.

(Updated: August 20, 2020 at 5:35 p.m. ET)

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Citing COVID-19, Advocates Want Medicaid Caregiver Check-In Mandate Delayed – Disability Scoop