Infrastructure Bill Takes Shape

Legislation | July 14, 2021 | by Marsha Greenfield

We are now receiving long-awaited details on the two infrastructure bills that are being negotiated, and have some sense of how they will “move.”

We are now receiving long-awaited details on the two infrastructure bills that are being negotiated, and have some sense of how they will “move.” First is the bill that does not include our priorities – the bipartisan group of Senators that have been negotiating a traditional infrastructure bill (bridges and roads) announced that they have agreed to a $1T package, details expected by the end of the week. This bill is designed to go through “regular order” and garner the minimum 60 votes to defeat any filibuster. We can call this “prong 1”.

Prong 2 is the human infrastructure bill that the President committed to in his American Jobs and American Families Plans, and is expected to contain provisions supporting aging services and older adults. Since that legislation is not expected to receive enough votes to overcome a filibuster, it must go through reconciliation, the process that allows a majority vote in the Senate on bills that affect the budget. Majority Leader Schumer announced this morning that Democratic leadership has agreed to a $3.5T package (which will be incorporated into a budget resolution that must pass both House and Senate by majority vote, and which will provide instructions to committees on how much funding each with have as they develop the substance of the reconciliation bill). It is this bill that is to cover aging services, low income housing, child care and other “human infrastructure” provisions.

While we don’t have a lot of details on what will be included in the reconciliation package, we understand that it will include funding to cover affordable housing, nutrition assistance, paid FMLA, child care, community college, etc., and add five major new health and home care programs, including a new dental, vision, and hearing benefit to Medicare; Home and Community-Based Services expansion; extension of the Affordable Care Act expansion from the American Rescue Plan; closing the Medicaid “Coverage Gap” in the States that refused to expand Medicaid; and reducing patient spending on prescription drugs.

The cost of both bills will need to be offset, as well. Some of the offsets expected include reducing federal spending on prescription drugs; tax reform affecting corporations and high-income individuals; and long-term savings.

Continued advocacy for our LeadingAge priorities on LTSS and senior housing are critical; we want to make sure that aging services and housing, and older adults are not lost in the final bills, which gives us about two months to continue to be in front of our representatives and Senators, so watch for continued advocacy alerts.