Congress Funds Medicare Low-Income Assistance Programs, Meets First Funding Deadline

This week, the House of Representatives passed the first of two appropriations packages to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2024 with just hours to spare for the March 8 midnight deadline. The package includes funding for the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment and Transportation-HUD bills. USAging expects the Senate will pass the bill swiftly and send it on to the President to be signed into law. Congress will now begin negotiations on the second appropriations package, which has a deadline of March 22 and includes funding for the remainder of the federal agencies, including Health and Human Services.  
In great news, Congress extended authorization and funding for Medicare Low-Income Outreach and Enrollment services through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers (MIPPA) program earlier this week as part of an appropriations bill. The extension runs through December 31, 2024, and is thanks to advocacy from USAging members, the National Council on Aging, and other stakeholders. The status of the program was thrown into limbo late last year when Congress missed the program's authorization and funding deadline. Thank you to all the USAging advocates who took action repeatedly over the past few harrowing months! We will have to resume advocacy later this summer, but for now, advocates can breathe a sigh of relief.  

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act 
On March 7, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing discussing the 2024 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA). USAging President Pam Curtis submitted written testimony for the record ahead of the hearing and USAging policy staff attended. The hearing focused on just a few OAA programs or entities: senior centers and the nutrition program. USAging is working to ensure that the next hearing, expected to be held by the Senate Aging Committee later this spring, will shine a light on the role of AAAs and the wide range of services and supports that they develop and coordinate. It will be critical in this reauthorization for AAAs to advocate strongly with all of their Members of Congress, to educate them on how the Act actually comes together and the AAAs' congressionally directed and much needed roles. Social isolation and health and wellness programs were raised by the witnesses and the Senators, but again—the focus stayed on how senior centers and meals programs provide those services, not the AAAs and the broader network of other service providers. USAging's reauthorization toolkit can help your agency message not only our recommendations, but how to educate lawmakers about your work!  

During the hearing, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his intention to include the USAging-endorsed Plan for Aging Act, which would set up supports for states to implement multi-sector plans on aging, in OAA reauthorization legislation. Panelists included Alison Barkoff, leader of the Administration for Community Living, the Florida SUA director, representation from national meals and senior center groups, an academic working on a project focused on health and nutrition (not funded by OAA) and an older adult who commented on her positive experiences receiving OAA services from her local AAA, the Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging in Virginia. 



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!