close-up of money

As House committees begin revealing their proposals to be included in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, senior living is reminding legislators not to forget older adults and their caregivers.

On Wednesday, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) applauding the affordable housing components in the House Financial Services Committee and House Ways and Means Committee bills. The reconciliation measures, she said, “rise to the occasion and offer critical resources” to expand the supply of service-connected affordable housing for older adults.

“The investments in these bills will allow generations of older adults to access affordable housing and to have options on where to live as they age and as their needs may change,” Sloan wrote.

Sloan also warned lawmakers not to cut back on funding commitments affecting older Americans and people living with disabilities.

“These are not just numbers,” Sloan said. “They’re the real lives of older people and the families struggling to get them the care and services they need.”

The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living similarly called on Congress to prioritize older adults and their caregivers in the infrastructure package. 

“While nursing homes and assisted living communities will soon receive much-needed resources from the Provider Relief Fund, longer-term investments from the federal government are necessary to help improve quality of care,” AHCA / NCAL said in a statement. 

The Financial Services Committee’s bill provides $322 billion for new and existing federal housing programs to address the nation’s urgent housing needs. LeadingAge said the investment would produce and preserve 894,984 affordable homes for older adults with low incomes and would provide 37,500 new Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly homes with an investment of more than $2.5 billion. It also would supply new service coordinators, a new technical assistance center for states, and resources for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve the administration of funds.

Sloan said there is a “dire need” to expand the supply of affordable senior housing across the United States. Nationally, 4.9 million 65-and-older owner and renter households spend more than half of their incomes on housing, she said. 

The Ways and Means Committee bill would temporarily increase state allocations of low-income housing tax credits and address threats to nonprofit ownership of housing credit homes. 

Tuesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed provisions to invest $190 billion in home- and community-based services — down from the $400 billion originally called for in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. 

Although this amount would be a “historic investment” in Medicaid HCBS and offer opportunities to strengthen the workforce, LeadingAge said it continues to advocate for a number closer to that $400 billion.

“LeadingAge is pleased to see the continued survival of the proposal to infuse billions of dollars into HCBS programs, aiming much of it at improving wages for workers,” Andrea Price-Carter, LeadingAge manager of congressional affairs, wrote in a piece on the LeadingAge website.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act in June, which would give states a 10% bump in federal Medicaid dollars for implementing HCBS improvements and bolster Medicaid programs and supports for direct care workers.