Members of LeadingAge from 43 states will take their message to Capitol Hill today for meetings with their representatives and congressional staffs. An important component of the association’s annual spring conference in Washington, D.C., congressional briefing visits are the sole item on this afternoon’s conference agenda.
Briefed by Politico editor Jim VandeHei on potential windows of opportunity on the Hill, members were then issued specific talking points and logistical guidance from LeadingAge staff and a grassroots consultant. Among their key messages:
Medicare & Medicaid: Still stinging from the 11.1 percent cuts to Medicare, LeadingAge members will urge Congress to refrain from any further cuts in Medicare payments to long-term services and supports providers. On the Medicaid front, members will ask to preserve current benefits and services and maintain present federal-state program structure. “Block grants just don’t work [for these sectors],” said LeadingAge board chair Audrey Weiner.
Affordable Senior Housing: LeadingAge members will also be calling for at least $600 million in funding for the Section 202 program. With roughly 10 seniors on the waiting list for every Section 202 until that becomes available, demand far outstrips supply.
Home- and Community-Based Services: Congress will be urged to renew the Older Americans Act (OAA) to help elders with meals, home care, adult day and other services that can keep them living independently longer.
CLASS: LeadingAge members will also ask their representatives to oppose the repeal of Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS). The need for a more sustainable way of financing long-term services and supports remains. “If not CLASS, then what?” asked LeadingAge President & CEO Larry Minnix. “Let’s get past the election and then fix it. It’s generally the right idea.”
By the end of business today, LeadingAge members will have tallied upwards of 270 congressional meetings, with representatives of 43 states in a single afternoon. Their goal is to advocate for those issues that most directly impact their organizations, residents, clients and staff. Members were advised to, whenever possible, share the stories of specific clients and staff members. They will do their best to make these meetings memorable by moving the conversation from policies to the people that they affect.