Capitol Correspondence - 04.06.21

President Biden Releases American Jobs Plan, Including Historic HCBS Investment

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President Biden released a fact sheet outlining his wish list, titled the American Jobs Plan, for a $2 trillion investment in infrastructure and jobs. This includes a proposal for a $400 billion investment in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program. To help our members understand this opening gambit to Congress, we stress the following points:

  • The American Jobs Plan is not legislation. It is a list of ideas the President wishes to see enacted, while giving the lead to Congress to develop the actual policy proposals.
  • While the proposal requests $400 billion for HCBS, it deliberately does not include any specifics on what shape that investment should take. Beyond mentioning the Money Follows the Person program by name, the Biden Administration is deferring to Congress on whether to invest that much, and how to spend it.
  • Congress will incorporate these ideas into multiple pieces of legislation, including legislation released prior to this plan, which could create logistical challenges. These bills will be distributed under different names across various committees of jurisdiction depending on the issue (e.g. Medicaid, broadband, highways, etc.). This means many components of the plan will advance separately – possibly through reconciliation – from a must-pass surface transportation bill which is viewed as an ideal vehicle.
  • This plan will likely advance on a partisan basis. The GOP announced opposition to the plan, stating that it goes far beyond the traditional definition of “infrastructure.” Advancing the plan will require negotiations within the Democratic Party. Among other factors, some Democratic lawmakers are frustrated that the plan is not likely to reinstate state tax deductions previously revoked in 2017 tax reforms enacted by the GOP.

Having said all of that, this is a historic moment for the HCBS program, which is receiving attention from key lawmakers to an extent it has not before. GR staff met with key disability staff in the Administration the day after the release of the American Jobs Plan to express our willingness to work with the Administration on this proposal and share our priorities. Simultaneously, ANCOR is actively engaging with Congress on proposals to strengthen the HCBS program beyond immediate pandemic relief, including the president’s proposal. As Congress drafts its response to President Biden’s proposal, we will keep members informed of opportunities for action.