March 29, 2023

Becerra Addresses Top Aging Issues Before House Committee

On March 28, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the President’s FY24 budget proposal. Top aging services issues were discussed, such as the 3-Day Hospital Stay Requirement, Nursing Home Mandatory Staffing Ratios, and Home and Community Based Services (HCBS).

Highlights from the hearing:

  • Both Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) brought up hospice program integrity and pressed the Secretary to crack down on “shadow” or “ghost” hospices, and pledged bipartisan Congressional support to do so. This aligns with LeadingAge’s work on hospice program integrity.
  • Representative Linda Sánchez (D-CA) praised the budget proposal to add $150 billion dollars to fund Medicaid home and community-based services, but emphasized that given the aging demographics and need for personal care services amongst our aging population, expanding Medicaid HCBS was not enough to solve the problem. She pressed Secretary Becerra to think about how to fund necessary long-term care outside of the Medicaid program (the only government funding mechanism currently). LeadingAge applauds Rep. Sánchez for recognizing the imperative of long-term care financing reform and looks forward to working with her office on these ideas.
  • Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) asked about some COVID waivers, including the 3-day stay, and the impact of these waivers ending with the Public Health Emergency on access to care. Secretary Becerra indicated he would need Congress’s help, and we will follow up with Rep. Smith to pursue his interest.
  • A number of members asked about the President’s nursing home reform proposal. The Secretary spoke a lot about the transparency rule, as well as the budget request for more money for program integrity. He also mentioned this budget request in relation to hospice program integrity oversight. LeadingAge will continue to promote our Get Real on Ratios legislative proposal and other efforts to educate Committee members.