As President Biden closes in on his first 100 days in office and prepares to address Congress and the nation on Wednesday, the aging services and care industry is holding its collective breath on whether it still will be considered part of the country’s infrastructure plan.
Earlier this month, Biden unveiled a $2 trillion, eight-year infrastructure plan with a nod to the needs of older adults and the long-term care industry. The plan includes an investment of more than $200 billion in tax credits and grants to improve and build affordable housing, including senior housing. It also sets aside $100 billion to ensure broadband access, and $400 billion to expand access to caregiving for older adults with those with disabilities.
But a recent $568 billion Republican counter proposal, seen as a starting point for bipartisan negotiations, strips away the dollars intended for older adults.
Biden’s American Jobs Plan seeks to expand access to long-term care services under Medicaid through home- and community-based services. It also seeks to extend the “Money Follows the Person” program that supports innovations in the delivery of long-term care. The plan additionally would create infrastructure to support improved caregiver wages and benefits.
Some assisted living providers offer HCBS to residents through Medicaid waivers, but whether assisted living would benefit from an expansion of HCBS would depend on the state, because each state builds its own Medicaid waiver or state plans.
LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said the Republican proposal is a “non-starter.” Older adults, their caregivers and families, she said, are “increasingly stressed, stretched and financially trapped because our aging services infrastructure has been ignored and underfunded for decades.”
“Large, bipartisan majorities support efforts to strengthen the aging services infrastructure because older Americans need a range of services to grow older wherever they call home,” Sloan said. “In addition to delivering that critical support for older adults, investing in aging services will create millions of jobs, strengthen wages and boost our economy. Stripping out support for home care, affordable housing and telehealth services is a non-starter.”
The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living previously applauded the American Jobs Plan for recognizing that “improving America’s infrastructure means investing in our healthcare system and for extending more support to long-term care services in homie- and community-based settings.”
“With one in six assisted living residents relying on Medicaid for their daily care, we appreciate federal officials recognizing the importance of expanding access to home- and community-based services, like assisted living,” AHCA / NCAL said.