Congressional lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to delay for one year a controversial Medicaid requirement that personal care service providers electronically check in when assisting people with disabilities in their homes.

The bill, introduced last week in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, calls for a delay until January 2020 of “electronic visit verification,” or EVV, which is intended to curtail fraudulent billing. EVV was mandated by Congress in December 2016 to start in January 2019.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is sponsoring the bill with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement that a delay would give her state time to “thoughtfully develop an effective EVV system based on the input of our family caregivers and stakeholders so patients receive the quality services they need and deserve.”

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Groups who work with people with disabilities have argued that the law is too broad and that states have not had time to develop systems, allocate funds and address privacy concerns.

Alison Barkoff, director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation in Washington D.C., said many state legislatures are no longer in session, limiting their abilities to meet the current deadline.

“I think most advocates would say this legislation is an important first step,” she said. “The fact that there is bipartisan legislation makes very clear that there are serious concerns and sends a really, really important message.”

Recently, various groups had asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to clarify who would be covered by the requirement and how the verification process would work. On May 16, CMS issued a FAQ document that said the check-in requirement applies to in-home provider visits but excludes care received in group homes or other 24-hour facilities.

The agency also said that GPS tracking was not a requirement, though some states have already launched programs with that technology.

“We have a lot of concerns around how these are being implemented and the video and audio recording function that is coming up in some states, including Ohio,” said Nicole Jorwic, director of rights policy for The Arc in Washington D.C. “I do think the CMS guidance will provide some support to states, but it still leaves a lot of discretion at the state level. There’s no reason to think these things couldn’t still continue.”

Jorwic said a delay would be a good start, but much more needs to be done to protect the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Individuals who are receiving services and their families should be reaching out to their state agencies, state legislators and federal legislators and make sure their voices are being heard,” she said.

The House legislation to delay EVV is sponsored by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

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