Washington Update

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The following May 1st update is from LeadingAge Director of Governmental Affairs Barbara Gay:

Fiscal 2016 budget resolution: House and Senate conferees reached consensus on a resolution setting out spending targets for broad categories of federal programs. The resolution was approved by the House on April 30, The Senate will vote on it the week of May 11th.

  • The budget resolution does not set spending amounts for specific federal programs. However, we have to be concerned about the total amount of spending cuts it calls for. If fiscal 2016 spending bills are drafted to accord with the budget resolution, as is required under the Budget Act, we will see significant declines in funding for senior housing programs and for home- and community-based services.
  • The budget resolution pushes total spending on non-defense discretionary programs below sequestration levels that have previously caused Older Americans Act programs and senior housing to lose funds.
  • The resolution instructs the committees with jurisdiction over health care to draft reconciliation legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Although the budget resolution scores repeal as a budget savings, legislators are fully aware that President Obama will veto ACA repeal legislation, so the savings score is unrealistic.
  • The resolution does not require any changes in Medicare or Medicaid. However, it contains statements calling for Medicare “reform” into a voucher system and more state flexibility for Medicaid. While we are not opposed to state flexibility, these proposals have consistently contained large cuts in federal Medicaid funding to the states, which we do strongly oppose.

Because of concerns among federal officials and many legislators of both parties over Congress’s ability to draft fiscal 2016 spending bills in line with this budget, the Obama administration is trying to negotiate another agreement similar to the one reached in 2013 on replacing the sequester.

Fiscal 2016 Transportation/HUD appropriations bill (no number available): The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation/HUD approved this measure on April 29. The full Appropriations Committee will take the bill up after the district work period.

LeadingAge is deeply concerned about this legislation, which severely underfunds affordable senior housing.

  • The bill does not fund any new affordable senior housing programs, such as the Section 202 Capital Advance Grant Program.
  • Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contract renewals, a vital rental assistance support program, are underfunded by $44 million
  • All funding for the National Housing Trust Fund is eliminated
  • Funds already dedicated to the housing with services demonstration will be recaptured for other purposes

LeadingAge is urging House members to vote against the bill. A message is on Contact Congress at http://www.leadingage.org/engage/.

Medicare/trade: The other measure on which we are doing advocacy is trade legislation, S. 995, which extends the 2% Medicare payment sequester another several months, through the end of FY 2024, to offset cost of trade adjustment assistance benefits

All Medicare stakeholders are opposed to this provision. In addition to Larry Minnix’s letter to Congress, LeadingAge has joined with other provider and consumer organizations protesting this provision.

Our advocacy appears to be having effect. The House Ways and Means Committee discharged the measure without recommendation, an unusual way for legislation to come to the House floor. On the Senate side, the Finance Committee ordered the legislation reported, but LeadingAge understands that senators are searching for other, more acceptable offsets.

 


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