Flag flies next to upper part of Capitol Building

The devil is still in the details, but senior services groups and caregiver advocates are optimistic about the $3.5 trillion budget passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

If approved, the plan would create a social safety net for seniors and could funnel billions of dollars into home-and-community-based services and home care. Ai-Jen Poo, executive director of Caring Across Generations and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, called on Congress to include the $400 billion the Biden administration promised for HCBS in the final budget.

“Our population is aging fast, few family members can afford to stay home to care for their loved ones, and yet care workers receive minimal pay and no benefits,” Poo said in a statement. “Investing $400 billion in home and community services will generate more than 1 million jobs, especially for women, and enable working moms and family caregivers to get back to work. This is essential infrastructure for a strong, equitable economy, and one that will help more of us live, age and work with dignity.” 

LeadingAge, which represents more than 5,000 seniors service organizations, is demanding the budget includes billions of dollars for higher caregiver wages, higher reimbursement rates for nursing homes and affordable senior housing.

“For millions of older adults who are skipping meals to make the rent, or who need help with essentials like getting in and out of bed, bathing and eating, or who require affordable, 24/7 care — every dollar makes a difference,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge said. “The upcoming reconciliation package must specifically provide for investments to address the nation’s most pressing aging services needs.”

Passage of the budget paves the way for a standalone vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Congress will then focus separately on the reconciliation package later in the fall.