LeadingAge Lobbies on Capitol Hill

Today, almost 400 LeadingAge members will visit 300 members of Congress as part of LeadingAge’s 2017 PEAK Summit Lobby Day. The timing couldn’t be better. The House of Representatives is expected to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. Of particular concern to senior advocates are proposals to convert Medicaid into a system of block grants or per capita capped allocations to states. These proposals reduce the federal commitment to Medicaid by more than $880 Billion over the next decade and can lead to draconian cuts in services provided and people served by Medicaid.  

We will also be urging Congress to:

  • Reject the President's proposed budget, which would cut HUD programs by more than $6 billion in fiscal year 2018.
  • Enact a fiscal year 2017 HUD funding bill with necessary rental assistance, renewal increases, and expansion of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program to include Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contracts.
  • Support legislation in the Senate and House to expand and improve the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. 

This is a critical time for aging services, and we are excited that so many of our members will be "on the Hill!" 

Congress Pushes Back on Budget Request

LeadingAge has welcomed the Congressional opposition and concern on display since President Trump issued his "skinny" budget request for fiscal year 2018 on March 17. The request would cut overall nondefense discretionary spending by $54 billion, including a 13% cut to HUD and an 18% cut to HHS. The skinny budget includes mostly agency-level funding requests. A complete, program-by-program request is expected from the Administration by mid-May.

Since the request was sent to Congress, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) decried cuts to the Meals on Wheels program, pointing out that the program is "not only a lifeline for food but a lifeline for communication.”" Chair Frelinghuysen also called White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former congressman, "not one of my favorite people," upping the contentiousness of budget negotiations.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) has publicly noted that she has "a number of serious problems with this proposed budget." Her House counterpart, HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), acknowledged that the request will bring on "a very long and arduous negotiation process."

Of the cuts to HUD specifically, THUD Subcommittee member Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) said, "there is nothing to cut" and predicted "bipartisan opposition to cuts of that severity."

MedPAC Releases Payment Report to Congress

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its March 2017 Payment Report to Congress. Its recommendations for reforms to post-acute care (PAC) provider payments systems both by setting and the continued encouragement towards a unified PAC prospective payment system should have particular interest to many LeadingAge members. We have previously reported on recommendations to eliminate the market basket update for 2018 and 2019 for nursing facilities, reduce the home health payment rates by 5% for 2018, and eliminate the hospice update in 2018.

LeadingAge does not support the blanket recommendations for rate cuts as they do not accurately reflect the mix of beneficiaries served by LeadingAge members nor correspond to the costs of providing quality care.