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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Build Back Better Act Package Includes HCBS Funding: Take Action to Get It Over the Finish Line!

Last week, the White House released a framework to advance the Build Back Better plan into law. The House Rules Committee then released their Build Back Better Act text. While negotiations for the final package are ongoing, the package is expected to have the support of all 50 Democratic Senators, which will be necessary to pass using the budget reconciliation process. Read more about reconciliation in our previous alert.

The Build Back Better Act as introduced includes $1.75 trillion in important investments in housing, education, children and families, clean energy and sustainability, immigration reform, and health coverage. It would fund grants to transition to competitive integrated employment, close the Medicaid coverage gap, expand Medicare to cover hearing benefits, reduce healthcare premiums for millions of people, and extend important tax credits. It would also make the Money Follows the Person program and HCBS Spousal Impoverishment protections permanent. Right now, the package does not include several previously considered provisions, including lowering prescription drug costs or paid family and medical leave.

Importantly, the package includes $150 billion to strengthen Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS), which includes efforts to end the existing backlog and improve conditions for workers. $150 billion is less than the amounts promised in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and passed out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. It is not enough to meet the incredible need. That said, $150 billion would be the most significant investment in HCBS we have ever seen. It would provide critical, urgently-needed funding to help disabled people live in our communities with the services and supports we need.

Congress will be working hard in the coming weeks to get the final package over the finish line. This is not a done deal yet! It is critical that our Members of Congress keep hearing from their constituents about the things that matter most. In particular, it is important they hear how vital it is that HCBS funding remain in the package until the bill passes!

Take Action!

Contact your Senators and Representative today! Make sure they know how critical home and community based services (HCBS) are, and ask them to make sure HCBS funding stays in the package until the end!

More information – including how to contact them and a sample script – is below.

SAMPLE SCRIPT (please feel free to personalize):

Hi, my name is [YOUR FULL NAME], and I’m from [CITY, STATE].

I am [calling / writing] to thank [Senator / Representative NAME] for their support of home and community based services in the budget reconciliation package, and to urge them to make sure HCBS stay in the package until the end!

Many disabled people and older adults rely on HCBS to live in our homes and participate in our communities. Currently, states are not meeting the needs of their disabled residents, forcing many people to remain on years-long waiting lists and others to be institutionalized.

As we have seen, people in these settings are at much higher risk of infection and death from COVID-19. In light of the disproportionate COVID infection and death rates, improving access to HCBS is more urgent than ever. We need Congress to provide this critical and long-overdue investment.

Thank you for your time. I hope I can count on your support for your disabled constituents.

(Your name)

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL OR EMAILING: please leave your full street address and zip code. This will ensure your call or email is tallied]

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  1. Great news!