Last week, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) sent a letter to U.S. Senate and House leaders identifying policy priorities that should be included in year-end or omnibus legislation.
LCAO is a coalition of 66 national nonprofit organizations concerned with the well-being of America’s older population and committed to representing their interests in the policy-making arena. Medicare Rights is an active member and co-chairs the LCAO Health Committee with Community Catalyst.
Key coalition asks include finalizing appropriations for fiscal year 2023 without further continuing resolutions; passing the Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act; and strengthening income security by improving retirement savings opportunities, restoring and clarifying protections for older workers, and modernizing the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) asset limits.
The letter also highlights the need to permanently extend two critical Medicaid policies that help older adults and people with disabilities live with choice, dignity, and independence: the home and community-based services (HCBS) Money Follows the Person (MFP) program and the spousal impoverishment protections. Since it began, MFP has helped over 107,000 people move out of institutions and into the community, improving their health outcomes and quality of life while saving state, federal, and taxpayer dollars. The HCBS spousal impoverishment protections have also been crucial, allowing married couples to meet basic needs without jeopardizing Medicaid HCBS eligibility or forcing community spouses to spend down to poverty. Making these proven initiatives permanent is long overdue.
Further, the coalition reiterates its support for several bipartisan proposals to streamline mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment for people with Medicare, like authorizing Medicare Part B coverage of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Mental Health Counselors (MHCs), improving access to clinical social worker services, and establishing coverage of intensive outpatient (IOP) services.
LCAO also urges permanently increasing federal Medicaid funding for the U.S. territories, calls on Congress to lift the debt ceiling, cautions against prematurely ending the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), and seeks an extension of the PHE Medicare telehealth waivers to allow for additional analysis.
Read the full letter here.