As the House stands poised to pass a massive COVID-19 relief bill, there is a good chance home care will secure a portion of the package. Senators have proposed various funding measures for home- and community-based services.
Most recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Special Committee on Aging, is pushing for the inclusion of $1.4 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, including $750 million in funding for the OAA Nutrition Services and $480 million to support providers’ efforts to vaccinate older adults in the next coronavirus relief package.
With many low-income seniors losing access to emergency feeding programs in senior centers and other congregate feeding programs, many of which closed during the pandemic, coupled with the urgent need to vaccinate homebound seniors, Gillibrand says the need for additional resources is unprecedented.
Gillibrand, in a signed letter with U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tina Smith (D-MN), urged Congress “to prioritize nutrition programs and vaccine support for homebound and socially isolated older adults.”
Meals on Wheels America, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP), and National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) supported the letter.
Other recent legislative actions in support of HCBS in the COVID-19 relief bill include the introduction of the COVID HCBS Relief Act, which would increase the federal Medicaid assistance percentage (FMAP) by 10%. Several senators also recently urged President Biden to stay true to his commitment to invest $450 billion in HCBS.
Meanwhile, news reports indicate that the full House may clear President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package by the end of February after Democrats beat back an onslaught of amendments by Republicans concerned about the price of the package.