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Capitol Correspondence - 06.22.21

Forecast Remains Unclear on Jobs and Infrastructure Package

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ANCOR continues advocate for the inclusion of long-term Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) funding in any congressional jobs and infrastructure package. The climate for such a package in Congress continues to be uncertain, as Politico Pulse reports:

“DEMOCRATS AT A CROSSROADS OVER SPENDING PACKAGEDemocrats on Capitol Hill are weighing pairing a bipartisan infrastructure proposal with a more progressive spending bill that would need to be passed along party lines. But there’s no consensus on what that partisan package should look like, as both centrist and liberal Democrats pile on demands, POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris report.

[Editorial note: for added context, this CBS News article explains the lukewarm Democratic reception of a bipartisan proposal led by Senators Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rob Portman (R-OH), even as more Republican Senators express public support for the proposal. Additionally, this Politico Huddle article on the bipartisan proposal lays out proposed pay-fors included in the legislation.]

The possibility of melding everything together into a single bill that Democrats would pass under rules requiring only 51 votes also remains, though it’s doubtful that’d be any easier for them.

To wit: House progressives are calling for ambitious measures that include lowering Medicare’s eligibility age. That’s something Biden promised during his campaign, but it would amount to a major change in the health program’s structure. They’ve also vowed not to back any bipartisan deal unless Democratic leaders commit to a separate partisan process that would deliver on more of their priorities.

On the Senate side, Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is writing a budget resolution that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and expand it to include dental, hearing and vision benefits, POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollsten reports.

But there’s little expectation that the entire party would agree to those provisions. Democratic aides emphasized that Sanders’ bill language isn’t binding. And House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) declined to say whether he’d include drug pricing language in his separate resolution, arguing that Democrats will soon have to coalesce around a single path forward.

‘There’s zero margin,’ he said. ‘Everybody’s in [a] position to sabotage whatever we’re doing.’

Where the White House stands: Biden officials have privately reassured anxious Democrats they support eventually passing a partisan bill that includes money for eldercare, child care and other priorities Republicans won’t sign off on, POLITICO’s Laura Barrón López writes.”

Related read: To strengthen the advocacy of our members for long-term investments in the HCBS funding, we share this InsideHealthPolicy article on how “some health care stakeholders are optimistic the investment could be a step towards broader social determinants funding.”