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Congress Continues to Debate Overall Cost of the “Human Infrastructure” Package

October 15, 2021

Congress Postpones Debt Ceiling Fight, Focuses on Finalizing “Human Infrastructure” Package

Following final Congressional passage earlier this week of a compromise bill increasing the federal debt ceiling until December 3, which President Biden signed Thursday night, lawmakers’ focus again returns to negotiating the final “human infrastructure” package.  Despite pressure from the White House and Congressional leadership, the path to passage remains uncertain. Continued disagreement within the Democratic party over the final cost of the package, what programs should be included, and how long those programs should last remains the primary stumbling block. Lutheran Services in America continues to advocate for key provisions that would help address the acute workforce shortage and expand access to home- and community-based services. Specifically, we are advocating for a final package that includes:

  • $250 billion to incentivize states to deliver or improve home- and community-based service programs, including through increasing wages and benefits for direct care workers;
  • $1.48 billion for a grant program funding strategies to recruit and retain direct care workers; and
  • the provisions of the WORK NOW Act to create a $50 billion grant program supporting nonprofits in paying wages and benefits.

Please join us in this effort through our advocacy alert.

CMS and OSHA Vaccine Rules Expected to be Released By the End of the Month

Following the Biden administration’s September 9 update that previously announced proposed emergency regulations requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for nursing home workers will be expanded to cover all staff within any Medicare- or Medicaid-certified facility, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is developing an Interim Final Rule. Separately, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. Specific details on implementation and exactly which employees will be subject to the rules will not be available until the regulations are officially released, which is expected by late October. Lutheran Services in America is sharing feedback from our members with these agencies as the rules are being developed, and will issue updates as we receive them, along with more information about any public comment periods.

By Sarah Dobson, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, and Josh Dubensky, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network