Government Affairs and Advocacy
Jan. 16 Federal Update: Save the Date for Advocacy Amplified Training and Hill Day
The Advocacy Amplified Training and Hill Day is a comprehensive and interactive three-day event in Washington, D.C., designed to empower individuals in the social sector with fundamental and advanced advocacy skills. Held at Social Current Headquarters and Capitol Hill, the event will focus on transforming expertise into impactful strategies, fostering relationships, and mobilizing support around the Streamlining Federal Grants Act and other policy topics important to the sector.
The event will begin with a two-day training to equip attendees with the information and skills to effectively participate in Hill Day. On day three, attendees will gain real-world experience through Capitol Hill visits. They will meet with legislators and staff to advocate for critical issues and deliver persuasive messages based on the training received the previous days. Social Current facilitators and guest speakers will drive engagement throughout the event. Learn more.
Proposal for Strengthened Child Tax Credit Goes Public
On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Republican Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) released an $80 billion proposal – up from prior reports of a $70 billion proposal – to expand the child and low-income housing tax credits and restore recently expired business tax breaks and deductions. It would also tie the child tax credit to inflation moving forward. According to Wyden, the child tax credit changes would benefit the families of 15 million children and lift 400,000 children out of poverty by increasing the refundable portion of the credit on a per child basis. The proposal would also pave the way for the construction of 200,000 new affordable housing units across the country. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and President Joe Biden have not commented on the deal, and it seems like there isn’t yet a consensus at the committee level on bringing the bill to the floor in either chamber of Congress. Notably, progressives are pushing to increase the current child tax credit maximum from $2,000 to $3,600. The bill’s sponsors aim to pass the proposal before the Jan. 29 tax-filing season, possibly linking it to a must-pass funding bill to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 19.
New Bill Introduced to Address Isolation and Loneliness Among Older Adults
On Dec. 7, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Chris Murphy (D-C.T.) introduced the Addressing Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults (SILO) Act to combat the crisis of social isolation among older Americans and adults with disabilities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed legislation aims to enhance social connections and diminish loneliness by allocating funding to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and community-based organizations. The bill responds to the profound mental and physical health impacts of social isolation, emphasizing that isolation and loneliness have long been significant issues for older Americans and people with disabilities. The SILO Act establishes a new grant program, allocating $62.5 million annually, dedicated to supporting AAAs and community-based organizations.
These funds will be utilized for training programs, outreach to at-risk individuals, creating community-based solutions, connecting at-risk individuals with support structures, and program evaluation. As of 2019, 25% of the 54 million adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. experienced social isolation. The legislation addresses the serious public health risks associated with social isolation, contributing to poor health outcomes and significant excess Medicare spending, estimated at $6.7 billion annually. The SILO Act aims to ensure older adults and individuals with disabilities can age without experiencing isolation and loneliness in their later years.
HUD Allocates $10 Million to Assist Vulnerable Families and Youth from Foster Care Facing Homelessness
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated $10 million to 13 public housing authorities across the nation. This funding, under the Family Unification Program (FUP), will provide more than 600 vouchers to identify and support homeless or at-risk former foster care youth as well as families whose inadequate housing is the primary reason their children are in foster care. The initiative aims to improve access to supportive services by enhancing coordination among public housing authorities, child welfare agencies, and Continuums of Care. “Keeping youth and families off the streets is essential to our efforts to reduce and ultimately end homelessness,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said. “This funding will help our local partners aid youth and allow families to get into more permanent and stable housing. HUD is committed to ending homelessness, and this funding and partnership help us continue that critical part of our mission.”
Administered by public housing authorities in collaboration with public child welfare agencies, the FUP provides housing choice vouchers to families where inadequate housing is a key factor in child placement and youth aged 18-24 at risk of homelessness after exiting foster care. FUP vouchers for families have no time limit, while those for youth are limited to 36 months, with possible extensions under the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities amendments. In addition to rental assistance, FUP youths receive supportive services for 36 months, focusing on skills like money management, job preparation, educational counseling, and nutrition.
HHS Releases New Healthcare Enrollment Report and Online Resource Hub
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a detailed state-by-state examination of the efficacy of enrollment strategies implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The examination follows the resumption of full eligibility renewals post-COVID-19 to safeguard Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment, particularly for children. According to the data, more than 88 million people, including nearly 40 million children, were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP across all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of Sept. 2023. Notably, states that expanded Medicaid and prioritized autorenewal (ex parte) rates experienced fewer disenrollments of children and youth. Conversely, the ten states that did not expand Medicaid—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—have collectively disenrolled more children and youth than the 40 states that did. This analysis underscores the pivotal role of state policy decisions and operational choices in preserving Medicaid and CHIP coverage for eligible individuals.
HHS has also introduced an online hub designed to facilitate the renewal and transition processes for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. This initiative consolidates crucial resources, primarily developed by CMS, to aid partners in outreach and engagement endeavors. The hub aims to ensure that individuals with Medicaid or CHIP coverage are well-informed about the renewal process, facilitating seamless transitions to alternative coverage options like employer-based plans or Affordable Care Act Marketplace plans. HHS encourages partners, including community-based organizations, to leverage the new resource hub to guarantee appropriate coverage for children and families. The user-friendly webpage offers diverse communication materials and toolkits in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. It also addresses potential scams and fraud related to Medicaid renewals, providing valuable information for partner-led community education.
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