Argentum Secures Major Victories for Senior Living in Congressional End-Year Spending Bill
Legislation gives huge boost to senior living priorities like workforce development and job training programs, Hurricane Ian disaster relief, and Alzheimer’s research.
Argentum called the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that Congress has agreed to fund the government through the 2023 fiscal year a significant victory for senior living communities, with major workforce development dollars targeted for senior care, set to have an immediate and long-lasting positive impact after a lengthy and now successful push by the association and its members.
The legislation, which still must be ushered through Congress and signed by President Biden, includes several provisions that Argentum has advocated for in recent months. These provisions include language to support the senior care workforce and other job training programs, disaster relief funding to help operators recover from Hurricane Ian, increases in Alzheimer’s research funding, improvements in accruing retirement savings, among other provisions.
“These are big wins for the senior living industry. This significant investment in workforce with a focus on senior care within the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor will have profound impact on our industry within the next year and decades to come,” said Maggie Elehwany, senior vice president of public affairs for Argentum.
“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of lead negotiator Senator Marco Rubio and members of Florida’s congressional delegation in securing much needed disaster relief funding for senior living providers, businesses and communities that were severely impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona,” said Paul Williams, vice president of government relations for Argentum.
“Argentum also commends the efforts of The Florida Senior Living Association, Argentum’s state partner for their extraordinary efforts ensuring close coordination with Florida officials to meet the needs of seniors both during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian,” he added.
Congress has a limited window to consider the package, which must be passed and signed into law by President Biden by midnight Friday to avert a government shutdown. While it is possible the text may change slightly, Argentum does not expect any major changes from the text released today. For a full summary of the legislation, click here. A summary of the appropriations provisions is available here; a summary of the disaster supplemental is available here and a one-page fact sheet is available here.
Major Senior Living Provisions:
Workforce Development: Argentum secured language to help transform existing education and training programs to develop the workforce needed to care for a rapidly aging U.S. population. Specifically, it urges the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, to support the expansion of the skilled care workforce to care for a rapidly aging U.S. population and provide home and community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities, including through education and training grant programs, as well as traditional and nontraditional apprenticeship programs. The package also includes $285 million to expand opportunities through apprenticeships grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and other arrangements; additionally, $65 million is allocated to for Strengthening Community College Training Grants and $1.760 billion for Job Corps.
Disaster Relief: Argentum’s direct discussions with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his staff regarding senior living provider needs post Hurricanes Ian and Fiona have yielded an appropriation of $858 million to help communities and businesses in impacted areas through The Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loans Program. These loans will help businesses, including senior living operators, to repair or replace disaster-damaged property including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. An appropriation of $5 billion is targeted to The Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Disaster Relief Fund to bolster Hurricanes Ian and Fiona recovery efforts.
Retirement Savings: The package includes language from the SECURE Act, which among its many provisions include increasing the required minimum distribution age from 72 to 75, removing restrictions that apply to retirement annuities which keep pace with inflation through modest increases, provide payouts to survivors, or allow “period certain guarantees” (lifetime annuities with a minimum payout period that transfers to beneficiaries after death), and makes a tax credit for contributions to a retirement plan refundable (under current law the credit is nonrefundable and is claimed on an individual’s tax return).
Low-Income Seniors Housing: Argentum called for and has been supportive of proposed increases in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs targeted to low-income seniors. The package includes $258.3 million to construct over 2,800 new affordable housing units for seniors and persons with disabilities, and an additional $1 billion for Housing for the Elderly, including $25 million to expand housing units to intergenerational families, to build nearly 1,120 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors. Argentum commends LeadingAge for championing these and other HUD programs that serve vulnerable older adults and is pleased to support these efforts.
Alzheimer’s Funding: The package includes an increase of $226 million for Alzheimer’s research and $500 million increase for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. Argentum directly advocated for increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia related research and associated initiatives. Our advocacy efforts comprised of meetings with members of Congress including Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and joining advocacy efforts of leading organizations such as Alzheimer’s Association, Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease, US Against Alzheimer’s, and the American Seniors Housing Association. Argentum member Senior Star, specifically Bill and Bob Thomas, have been tireless advocates for these initiatives and play a pivotal role in securing much needed federal funding.
Telehealth: The package extends for an additional two-years the Medicare rules allowing expanded access to telehealth services and for employers to offer telehealth services pre-deductible to those with a high deductible health plan paired with a health savings account. Argentum joined more than 350 organizations is urging Congress to extend these telehealth provisions.