Following a “deeply partisan” spending proposal from the House of Representatives that gutted workforce development programs, senior living advocates are praising a Senate bipartisan spending bill that provides additional funding for those programs.
Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the fiscal year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies’ $224.4 billion spending bill included additional funding for workforce development, including apprenticeship grants and other programs.
Although funding was limited to the debt deal agreed to earlier this year, American Seniors Housing Association Vice President of Government Affairs Jeanne McGlynn Delgado told McKnight’s Senior Living that the bipartisan measure “stands in sharp contrast to the deeply partisan approach taken by the House in recent weeks, which made steep cuts and/or eliminations in key job training programs, such as Job Corps and apprenticeship programs, which will only exacerbate the workforce shortage.”
The Senate, Delgado said, not only maintained workforce development programs and made additional investments in apprenticeship programs but also added $100 million in targeted funding to the National Institutes of Health for Alzheimer’s research.
Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor HHS, Education Subcommittee approved FY24 spending levels that “drastically” cut funding for several federal workforce training programs, including an almost 30% reduction in the Department of Labor budget, the elimination of programs such as Job Corps, and a reduction in grants for workforce and apprenticeship programs, Argentum Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Maggie Elehwany told McKnight’s Senior Living.
Progress made in using Job Corps, Job Centers, federal Closing the Skills Gap grants and federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity grants could be jeopardized by the House’s proposed cuts, she added.
“We commend members of the Senate Appropriations Committee for not pursuing similar reductions to the workforce that could jeopardize gains that have been made to fill millions of jobs in the wake of the ‘Great Resignation,’ ” Elehwany said.
The aging of the population and the increased prevalence of chronic conditions are fueling the demand for long-term care services and supports, Elehwany added. By 2050, the number of Americans needed for paid long-term care services is expected to triple to 27 million. To meet that demand, the long-term care industry as a whole will need to fill more than 20 million jobs by 2040, and senior living in particular will need to fill three million of those jobs, according to Argentum.
“With the threat of a government shutdown on the horizon, negotiations between the House and Senate will be challenging, at best,” Delgado said. “ASHA will advocate to include sufficient workforce development funding, as well as the critically needed increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research.”