Congress Dashes Toward Doors in a Scramble of Legislative Activity
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Section: December Associate Newsletter

Lawmakers wrapped up their last work week of the year by pushing through a number of must-do legislative priorities. A massive measure to fund the federal government through FY 2020—including several increases for Older Americans Act programs—along with funding for several expiring health care programs gained bipartisan approval before heading to the White House for signature. Details on funding levels can be found in n4a’s appropriations chart. At press time, the House has passed the bipartisan measure, the Senate will do so today, and the President is expected to sign before Friday’s midnight deadline.
This week Congress also approved funding through May 22 for both the Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program and outreach and enrollment assistance programs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries (known as MIPPA, this program funds AAAs, ADRCs and SHIPs to target Medicare enrollment activities to economically vulnerable beneficiaries). Both programs were set to run out of funds at the end of the year, and while advocates had hoped for a longer-term funding extension for MFP and MIPPA efforts, this short-term extension will put both programs in line with other critical health care program reauthorizations. Additionally, Senate Finance Committee leaders recently introduced a bipartisan bill to create a permanent authorization for MFP, which would prevent funding lags for state efforts to rebalance long-term care initiatives from institutional to home and community-based care.
At the start of this week, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the federal OAA was introduced in the Senate—an important step toward what we hope will be early 2020 activity to finalize a reauthorization. Leaders of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA), formally introduced S. 3057, Modernization of the Older Americans Act Amendments (MOAA), a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the OAA through 2026! This is a long-anticipated, exciting and critical step for Senate leaders on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which has legislative jurisdiction over the Act, and the Senate Aging Committee, with which they worked closely this year to move a bipartisan reauthorization toward congressional approval and the President’s desk.
While a modest piece of legislation—as most bipartisan bills are—the measure contains many of n4a’s OAA reauthorization priorities, and its introduction helps advance reauthorization in the Senate. In a statement, n4a CEO Sandy Markwood indicates that n4a strongly supports the bipartisan, inclusive process that Senate staff have participated in within the chamber as well as with House Education and Labor Committee leaders and staff.