President Biden

President Joe Biden (Credit: Drew Angerer / Staff / Getty Images)

A pared down, $1.75 trillion social spending package framework announced Thursday by President Biden is being called a “historic step” for older adults, but greater investments still are necessary to strengthen America’s long-term care infrastructure, according to a national leader in the field.

The framework for the Build Back Better Act, which is half of the original $3.5 trillion proposal, calls for $150 billion to expand home- and community-based services for older adults, as well as the “single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history” with $150 billion to increase the supply of affordable housing, including $450 million for the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program and other investments. 

“This is a historic step to address the critical needs of older Americans and their families,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said. “We can’t let up now. The number of Americans 65 and older will more than double over the next 40 years, and half of us will need long-term services and supports as we age. 

“Without further investments in our aging services infrastructure, too many older adults will not have their basic needs met,” Sloan continued.

The framework, if passed as written, would enable the construction, rehabilitation and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes, increasing housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

In addition, the proposal includes $1 billion for Direct Care Workforce Competitive Grants; $425 million to expand the Health Profession Opportunity Grant to provide education and training for careers in the healthcare field; $350 million for individuals to carry out nontraditional apprenticeship programs, including serving individuals with disabilities or non-traditional apprenticeship populations; and $20 million for the Direct Care Workforce National Technical Assistance Center. 

PHI called the framework for the Build Back Better Act a “remarkable achievement.” 

“Direct care workers are essential to millions of older adults and people with disabilities across the country, and today the federal government acknowledged this value by enacting a sweeping investment in these essential workers,” PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon said.

The framework also includes funding for immigration and Medicare coverage for hearing benefits, among other funding.

The spending and tax cuts in the package would be financed largely through tax increases focused on high-income households and corporations, as well as a surcharge on stock buybacks.

Biden on Thursday encouraged members of Congress to take up the “historic” bill, as well as the Senate-passed $550 billion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.