The Mentor Network, one of the nation’s leading providers of health and human services, sees a trend toward expanded home-and-community-based services (HCBS). But  CEO William McKinney said during a UBS Healthcare conference Monday that HCBS agencies must aggressively lobby federal and state leaders to support that growth.

William McKinney

“I think if we can get a state and federal legislator to hear our story, come visit a program and meet with caregivers, it’s a pretty profound impact,” McKinney said.

The Mentor Network offers medical, behavioral and social programs in home- and community-based settings in 37 states. Its 35,000 employees provide care to roughly 30,000 seniors and disabled adults.

Under the American Rescue Plan, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing $12 billion to states for enhanced funding for HCBS. A couple of weeks ago CMS provided guidance on what states need to do to claim the increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and how that money might be spent.

Meanwhile, President Joseph Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes an additional $400 billion for the care economy, which McKinney called “transformational” for HCBS providers.While McKinney said states have been supportive of HCBS during the pandemic, he urged continued lobbying to ensure that support is maintained.

“When you start talking to state and federal legislators, you would be surprised how many have a personal connection to at least one of the services that we offer and they understand the value and importance of what we do,” McKinney said.

McKinney also conceded a shortage of care workers continues to challenge the industry and said the industry needs to keep lobbying for high worker wages and increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for providers.