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

Prioritizing HCBS: Updates and Get Involved with This Week’s Hearing!

This Wednesday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing titled “An Economy That Cares: The Importance of Home-Based Services”. This hearing will focus on home and community based service (HCBS) and Chairman Bob Casey’s (D-PA) Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would expand access to HCBS and invest in the direct support workforce. Read more in our previous alert.

This hearing shows Senate leadership’s continued commitment to moving a major investment in HCBS forward this year. It also provides an opportunity for our community to reaffirm how important this issue is and how much support there is for this policy. See below for some ways you can get involved and some additional background information about the fight for HCBS!

Take Action!

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, March 23 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (9 CT / 8 MT / 7 PT). It will be livestreamed on the Committee’s website as well as their Facebook and Twitter.

  • Watch the hearing live and engage on social media! You can watch the hearing at one of the links above. During the hearing, tweet about what’s being said and about the importance of HCBS! You can also share your own HCBS stories. The Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Twitter handle is @SenateAging. You can also use the hashtags #HCBS and #BetterCareBetterJobs. Engaging during the hearing will show how much support there is for HCBS! (The hearing will also be archived if you cannot watch it live.)
  • Contact your Senators and urge them to attend the hearing! You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators, or you can find your Senators’ contact forms at senate.gov.
  • Submit a “statement for the record” to SFR@aging.senate.gov through Tuesday, March 29, 2022. These statements will let Congress know why investing in HCBS and the workforce is so important to you and the disability community. You can share your personal story or whatever information you are comfortable sharing. These statements will let them know there is strong support for this policy and help them understand how badly this legislation and the investment in HCBS is needed.

Background Information

While disabled people have the right to receive services and supports in our communities, far too many are unable to access them. Millions of our people remain stuck in institutions, being forced there to receive the services they need. Hundreds of thousands of our people are on waiting lists for home and community based services (HCBS) – many who will wait years before receiving the services they need. Further, the HCBS workforce – primarily women of color – has been underpaid and undervalued for decades, despite the vital services they provide. A major investment in HCBS has long been necessary, and we are excited that the Senate is continuing to prioritize HCBS.

We were also pleased to hear President Biden reaffirm his commitment to continuing his push for HCBS in his State of the Union Address. The President’s continued commitment to HCBS is critical, and we have appreciated his efforts to prioritize a significant investment in HCBS as a key policy priority since he took office. We were especially pleased in light of last month’s fact sheet from the Biden Administration announcing several reforms to improve quality and accountability in nursing facilities.

While it is imperative to protect our people trapped in nursing facilities – and all institutions – these investments were framed as part of the President’s commitment to ensuring that older Americans and people with disabilities can live in an accessible, inclusive, and equitable society. Institutions restrict people’s freedom – by their very nature – and cause immense harm. No amount of reform will lead to an accessible, inclusive, and equitable society. We are grateful for the President’s commitment to HCBS, which will truly lead to access, inclusion, and equity.

A significant investment in HCBS is urgently needed to expand access to services and support the workforce that provides them. We are pleased that the Administration and Congress are continuing to prioritize this. While this investment was urgently needed even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic made it even more critical.

Take action today!