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117th Congress Convenes Amid Turmoil and Transformation

As Americans are keenly aware after this week's attack on the U.S. Capitol, returning and new lawmakers arrived back in DC to begin the work of the 117th Congress. The results of Tuesday's Georgia runoff election ushered in a political and policy sea change as Democrats will assume control of both chambers of Congress and the White House after the January 20th inauguration of President-elect Biden. As such, Members, staff and advocates are focused on identifying core priorities—including aging and health care policies—that the new Congress and Administration will promote.

We expect that near the top of the priority list will be passing another round of coronavirus-relief legislation to address many of the issues that were left out of the December-passed package. While the bill that passed at the end of last year included $175 million for OAA Titles III C and VI nutrition programs, that was only a fraction of the more than $1 billion in funding for OAA programs that received bipartisan and bicameral support last year.

n4a will remain laser focused on advocating for additional OAA funding as the health and economic crisis drags on. Lawmakers also must determine whether they revisit politically contentious additional funding for state Medicaid and local and state governments in a future relief measure.

While the new Congress and Administration certainly have their work cut out for them, many important aging policy issues were addressed in the chaotic closing days of the 116th Congress, including:
  • $100 million for the Elder Justice Act, including $50 million for Adult Protective Services programs—the first time that such an allocation was achieved for these important efforts;
  • A three-year extension of the Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) and spousal impoverishment programs. MFP activities will be funded at $450 million per year through 2023;
  • A three-year extension of, and increase in, funding for AAAs, SHIPs and ADRCs to conduct outreach, education, and enrollment activities to low-income Medicare beneficiaries;
  • $13 billion in increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which includes a 15 percent increase in the monthly benefit through June 2021; and
  • Full-year FY 2021 funding for OAA and other vital discretionary aging programs. While most OAA programs received either flat funding or modest increases for FY 2021, the full-year appropriations package provides stability for these programs during a critical and volatile time.
More details about the current status of health and aging policy priorities are available via n4a's advocacy resources. Also, stay tuned to n4a in the days and weeks ahead for ongoing vital advocacy messages and engagement opportunities as the 117th Congress and Biden Administration get underway.

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