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As activity heats up in the legislature in the final days before the deadline to move bills out of committee, AgeGuide is keeping an eye on both Springfield and Washington and continuing to advocate for the needs of older adults in our region. Here, we answer three big questions of the day.
1. How is the Illinois General Assembly Operating These Days?
Illinois Legislators met in person during the month of April with strict health and safety measures regarding COVID-19. The House and Senate have each instituted mandatory testing protocols for entry into the Capitol building for members, staff, journalists, and lobbyists. The Capitol is still closed to members of the public. In the Senate, members have the option to participate remotely for floor action. The House has no similar provision for remote floor votes but remote committee votes are allowed. All committee hearings and floor action can be viewed live online at www.ilga.gov.
2. What is AgeGuide Watching?
Federal Level Priorities
It’s important to note that aging services have lost funding in actual dollars over the last decade due to the growth in numbers of clients in need of programs and services and years of budget cuts. Now, to be clear, while desperately needed and greatly appreciated, the 3 rounds of relief funding Congress provided in response to the pandemic were simply that, an emergency response—not a long-term investment in serving the rapidly growing numbers of older adults who need our services.
To continue to provide services beyond the pandemic, AgeGuide is advocating for a 50% increase in funding for the following areas of the Older Americans Act (OAA):
The Biden Administration’s $1.5 trillion FY 2022 discretionary budget request includes increases to Older Americans Act programs and other supports for older adults including:
The President’s proposed budget isn’t final until it’s approved by the House and Senate. Congress has already begun considering appropriations levels. Now is the time to advocate. Send letters to Congress here in support of the OAA funding in the budget.
3. What’s Next at the Federal Level?
Billions of dollars in Federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is on it’s way to Illinois. The aid package includes a number of investments aimed at improving access to health care and increasing economic security for older adults during the pandemic.
The Plan provides additional funding for Medicaid Home and Community-Based services for one year. This funding will provide additional home-based long-term care to help seniors to avoid nursing home placement. ARPA also provides funding for vaccine outreach, caregiver support and the long-term care ombudsman program. Some funding is also directed at improving transportation for Older Americans and people with disabilities, something we know from the AgeGuide community needs assessment is a significant need in our region.
The US Congress is also considering several additional bills proposed by the Biden Administration including, the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for infrastructure and healthcare and the American Families Plan which proposes to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, among other things.
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