Friday, June 05, 2020

Federal Updates

Besides the three emergency bills already passed by Congress, The US House of Representatives passed a fourth major supplemental bill on May 15, called the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800). The bill includes many provisions to support older adults, including:

  • $85 million for Older Americans Act Programs
  • $500 billion to States and $300 billion to local municipalities and counties for revenue loss and COVID19 response
  • Nursing home “strike teams”- to ensure PPE and protocols are working to protect residents
  • Increased Federal reimbursement to states for Medicaid
  • Increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits
  • Specific provisions to address social isolation and loneliness:
    • Expansion of Social Isolation and loneliness Screenings
    • Expansion of Peer support programs
    • Public Health response strategy and national awareness campaign
    • Improved data collection and reporting
    • Increased funding for Administration of community Living’s Resource Center

It is unclear how many of these provisions will remain in the Senate version of the bill. The Senate isn’t expected to take a bill up anytime soon as the leadership has indicated they have no plans to consider any new emergency response measures until after Memorial Day. It will likely be after July 4th before any new emergency funding is available.

State Updates

The Illinois General Assembly, which had not met since early March due to the coronavirus, convened for a special session in Springfield May 20 – 23. The House of Representatives met at the Springfield Convention Center and the Senate met at the Capitol.

The Illinois FY 21 state budget passed both the Senate and the House on May 23. The Governor is expected to sign the budget. This is a maintenance level budget for now, and based on borrowing from the Federal Government which may or may not become an option.

For the full budget document click here.

The full Budget Implementation bill can be viewed here.

The Governor’s 2021 proposed budget included increases for the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) programs, but of course a lot has changed since that budget proposal came out earlier this year.

Early projections show Illinois’ budget deficits at $500 billion over the next two years. As the costs of fighting COVID-19 continue to grow, the Governor directed nearly $500 million in additional spending to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). Much of this spending has been for obtaining personal protective equipment for frontline workers and ventilators to treat patients. Federal funding is expected to reimburse the state for most of these costs.

Most of the Illinois Department on Aging program increases in the proposed budget were slashed in the actual budget including a $2 million increase for Home Delivered Meals, likely because this program received considerable funds in the federal supplemental CARES Act. In addition, funding for Adult Protective Services received only a $1 million increase instead of the proposed $4.2 million increase. However, any increase in the current budget climate is more than many programs received. The fact that the rest of the IDOA programs received flat funding and not cuts was a win.

We were told by legislators that the State budget deficit is likely to cause delayed payments. Even programs that received full funding will likely see long delays in payment that will affect agency budgets across the state.

This year’s abbreviated session and state budget process were unprecedented – a reflection of the unique and uncertain times we are currently living in.

Advocacy Agenda

Moving forward, AgeGuide and the aging network will need to quickly address and remedy several real consequences from the pandemic – health disparities, the impact of COVID19 on social determinants of health, and greater instances of isolation among older adults.

AgeGuide continues to build relationships and communicate with State and Federal lawmakers to alert them to our services, the needs of older adults, and to advocate for support for older adults and their caregivers throughout this ongoing pandemic.

We are currently advocating for:

  1. Federal Level – Full funding of the reauthorized Federal Older American’s Act, Supporting Older Americans Act. Passage of a Senate supplemental bill similar to the House Bill H.R. 6800 which includes supports for older adults.
  2. State budget – Full funding through IDoA which has authority to transfer up to 10% of funds between lines of their state budget.
  3. Long-term care facilities – Availability of PPE, testing, infectious disease management, staffing, reporting, and social connection with loved ones.
  4. Caregivers – Funding to continue to support quality care for evidenced-based caregiver assessments and interventions.
  5. Social Isolation – Continued funding for virtual programs and the resources to access them.
  6. Adult Protective Services – Workers cannot go into homes in person right now due to CDC health guidelines. Reports of abuse and neglect are down about 40%. This is likely due to people being reluctant to report when isolated at home with an abuser, as well as the lack of outside observers during sheltering in place. Support is needed to ensure workers have resources to protect vulnerable older adults.


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