Monday, November 15, 2021

Despite the weather and the ongoing pandemic, there is a lot to be thankful for in the world of aging services. At the top of the list is the passage of the federal infrastructure bill which will impact access and equity for older adults right here in our region. At the same time, we have an historic opportunity to impact long-term policies and funding to bolster home and community based services and other supportive services for older adults by advocating for passage of several bills. In celebration of Thanksgiving this year, AgeGuide invites you to join us in advocating for aging services by sending a quick and easy email to your legislators.  

Infrastructure Bill 

On Friday, November 5th, the House passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill passed with bipartisan support and is expected to be signed into law the week of November 15th. 

The bill includes the following for Illinois:  

  • $1.7 billion to improve drinking and wastewater infrastructure throughout Illinois  
  • $9.8 billion for federal highway projects  
  • $1.4 billion for bridge replacement and repairs 
  • $4 billion to improve public transportation options across the state 
  • $616 million for airport improvements 
  • $100 million for broadband coverage across the state  

Currently, there are about 228,000 Illinoisans who do not have broadband. About 2.9 million low-income Illinoisans will now get an internet access benefit.  This means that every older adult will have access to reliable high-speed internet to access classes, participate in activities and stay in touch with family and friends.  

In addition, the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act, introduced by Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-IL3), was included as part of the bill. This measure provides municipalities with the funding they need to ensure their public transit systems meet or exceed accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  

Build Back Better Act (BBB) 

On Thursday, October 28th the Biden Administration released a revised $1.75T Build Back Better (BBB) Act framework. The revised framework represents a scaled down version of the original $3.5T proposal but still includes significant increases for aging services. 

This is the budget reconciliation bill that contains critical funding for the Older Americans Act ($1.2 billion) including home and community-based services, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, transportation, nutrition, caregiver services, and Medicare expansion (hearing and vision). The Build Back Better bill represents a critical investment in the aging services workforce and infrastructure.  

What Happens Next?  

At this time, the BBB bill is still in the U.S. House awaiting passage. You can help! Consider sending a message to your member of Congress using this quick email action link. As they negotiate and consider changes to the bill, Congress needs to know that these investments are critical for older adults and the workforce that supports them. 

Federal Budget 

The clock is ticking for Congress to pass their federal funding appropriations bills to keep the government running past Dec 3rd when the current continuing resolution runs out. Negotiations are underway between the chambers and the Administration to reach an agreement around final FY 2022 appropriations levels, including for the Labor-HHS-Education bill that affects the Older Americans Act (OAA) funding.  

Current proposals in the House and Senate include increases to the following programs that impact older adults: 

  • Home & Community-Based Supportive Services 
  • Nutrition Services (congregate and home-delivered meals)  
  • National Family Caregiver Support Program 
  • Evidence-Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention 
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program 
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs)  
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (help navigating Medicare enrollment) 
  • Lifespan Respite Care (for older adults and people with disabilities)  
  • The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) 
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)  
  • The Foster Grandparent Program  
  • The Senior Companion Program 
  • Housing programs 
  • Transportation programs 

What Happens Next? 

The budget negotiation process continues in overdrive as Congress and the Biden administration negotiate final spending levels for a dozen spending bills. With funding set to expire on December 3rd, Congress has to reach consensus in the coming weeks. Please contact your congressional delegation on FY 2022 appropriations levels by using this quick email action link 


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