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

House Passes Build Back Better Act; Take Action to Get It Over the Finish Line!

Today the House passed the Build Back Better Act (BBB), President Biden’s transformational legislation with a historic $1.7 trillion investment in critical programs and services. While the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, BBB and the recently-passed infrastructure package will set our country on a path toward a more equitable recovery.

The Build Back Better Act includes major 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. The bill also includes paid leave and drug pricing provisions that had previously been removed from the package.

Importantly, the package still includes $150 billion in funding to strengthen Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS). While $150 billion is less than the original amount proposed by President Biden, it is still the largest investment in HCBS we have ever seen and would provide urgently-needed funding to support the workforce and help disabled people live and stay in our communities. The package would also make the Money Follows the Person program and HCBS Spousal Impoverishment protections permanent, further enabling disabled people to get out of institutions and live in the community.

BBB now moves to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Schumer has set a Christmas deadline. This is not a done deal yet!

Take Action!

It is critical that the Senate keep BBB intact and pass it quickly. Keep contacting your Senators; they must keep hearing from their constituents about the things that matter most, especially how vital it is that HCBS funding remain in the package until the end!

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

  • Thank your Representative for voting YES: All House Democrats except one (Representative Golden (D-ME)) voted Yes. Call them and thank them! Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Representative. You can find your Representative’s direct phone number and website at house.gov/representatives. If you don’t know who your Representative is, you can find out at house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.
  • Then, contact your Senators and urge them to get BBB to the finish line: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators. You can find your Senators’ direct phone numbers and websites at senate.gov. You can also see a list of Senators’ Twitter handles or use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters by texting “RESIST” to 50409.
  • Take action over the recess: In addition to the standard list above, because next week is recess and our Senators will be in their home districts, here are some additional ideas!
    • Consider holding a rally or other media event to show your support and get attention for Build Back Better! We need our Senators to know how strongly their constituents support BBB!
    • Schedule a meeting with your Senators (or their staff). Meetings can be conducted in-person, online or by phone – do what is safe and accessible for all parties involved! Urge them to support BBB and ensure it gets over the finish line!

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 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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