Government Affairs and Advocacy

April 22 Federal Update: Biden-Harris Administration Enhances Accessibility and Transparency in Federal Grant Processes

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April 22, 2024

The Biden-Harris administration announced significant updates to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance. This pivotal move will make over $1.2 trillion in federal funds more accessible for families, communities, and small businesses. These modifications, representing the most substantial changes to the federal grants process since the Uniform Grants Guidance was instituted 10 years ago, are designed to streamline and clarify the requirements associated with federal funding.

The revised Uniform Grants Guidance focuses on reducing unnecessary compliance costs and administrative burdens. The goal is to make it easier for recipients, particularly those in underserved communities, to access essential funding without getting bogged down by bureaucratic complexities. The guidance notably emphasizes the importance of data and evaluation in program development and implementation, ensuring that federal funds are used effectively to achieve meaningful outcomes.

One of the fundamental changes includes the simplification of the Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs). By rewriting NOFOs in plain language and including an executive summary, they look to help non-experts and smaller organizations more clearly understand program objectives and application requirements. Furthermore, the guidance promotes equity by removing the requirement to use English in notices, applications, and reporting. The updates also stress the need for federal agencies to engage with affected communities actively. This involves consultations with nonprofits, labor unions, and Tribal governments, as well as the use of responsible contractors.

Accompanying the guidance revisions, the OMB has issued an implementation memorandum that directs federal agencies to adopt these changes by Oct. 1. This directive includes additional tools to strengthen the administration of federal financial assistance, ensuring that agencies and recipients can focus more on delivering impactful results, rather than navigating the complexities of administrative requirements.

This overhaul of the grants guidance was informed by a comprehensive review process involving over 50 federal agencies and considering more than 3,200 public comments, reflecting a broad spectrum of stakeholder insights. By making these adjustments, the Biden-Harris administration aims to foster a more supportive and transparent environment for federal grant recipients.

Senate Hearing Focuses on Solutions for the Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis

On April 16, the Senate Special Committee on Aging convened the hearing, “The Long-Term Care Workforce: Addressing Shortages and Improving the Profession,” chaired by Sen. Bob Casey. The hearing assembled a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss pressing issues facing the long-term care workforce and explore potential legislative and practical solutions.

In his opening statement, Sen. Casey underscored the dire situation in long-term care settings, where staffing shortages have become increasingly prevalent, significantly affecting the quality of care. He highlighted the introduction of the Long-Term Care Workforce Support Act, a legislative effort aiming to provide comprehensive support for the workforce, including improved compensation, respect, and a safe working environment.

Ranking member Sen. Mike Braun emphasized the importance of state-led initiatives and flexibility, critiquing a one-size-fits-all approach. He advocated for innovative local solutions to bolster the workforce without imposing burdensome federal regulations.

Testimonies from frontline workers and educators provided a personal touch to statistics. Brooke Vogleman, a licensed practical nurse, shared her journey and the ongoing challenges in the profession, including the reliance on temporary staffing agencies due to chronic understaffing and burnout exacerbated by the pandemic. Additionally, Nicholas Smith, a direct support professional, detailed his role’s physical and emotional toll, illustrating the critical need for better compensation and support systems to prevent burnout and ensure a sustainable workforce.

Dr. Matthew Connell from Ivy Tech Community College highlighted Indiana’s educational initiatives that address workforce shortages through targeted training programs, demonstrating the potential impact of academic and professional development opportunities. Assistant Professor Jasmine Travers from New York University provided an academic perspective, noting the severe impact of staffing shortages on patient care and calling for systemic changes to improve working conditions and compensation.

The hearing vividly depicted the challenges and opportunities within the long-term care sector. It called for a unified approach where federal and state governments, educational institutions, and health care providers enact meaningful reforms that ensure quality care for the aging population and respect and support those who provide this indispensable service. The testimonies and discussions from the hearing underscored a commitment to transforming the long-term care workforce into a more sustainable, respected, and professionally rewarding field.

Exploring the Biden-Harris Administration’s Vision for America’s Future

As the Biden-Harris administration forges ahead into the second half of its term, recent White House briefings offered a window into the diverse strategies that aim to reshape America’s economic and social fabric. These briefings, covering a broad spectrum of initiatives, underscored a commitment to steering the nation through pressing challenges while laying a foundation for sustainable growth. Each briefing articulated distinct yet interconnected objectives, reflecting the administration’s intentions to actively balance immediate needs with long-term goals.

Highlights from the FY2025 Budget Briefing
In a comprehensive briefing on the FY2025 budget, Shalanda Young, director of the OMB, outlined the administration’s strategic fiscal objectives aimed at fortifying the economic landscape of the U.S. Central to the budget are measures to reduce living costs, spur economic growth, decrease the federal deficit and safeguard entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Key initiatives include continuing efforts to lower drug prices, exemplified by the imposition of a $35 cap on insulin and enhanced Medicare negotiations. The briefing also detailed fiscal supports for housing, with notable proposals like a $10,000 credit for first-time homebuyers and equivalent incentives for existing homeowners facing higher mortgages. Additionally, the budget advocates for expanded child care subsidies and a significant $150 billion allocation towards Medicaid home-based services. The economic growth strategy hinges on investments in manufacturing, clean energy, and healthcare, complemented by tax reforms favoring lower and middle-income families and robust measures against tax fraud.

The Biden-Harris Agenda for Bipartisan Collaboration

Emmy Ruiz, assistant to the president and political director, also introduced a session emphasizing bipartisan cooperation under the Biden-Harris administration’s Unity Agenda. Key areas of focus include tackling the opioid crisis, enhancing mental health services, supporting veterans, regulating big tech, and combatting cancer.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra elaborated on initiatives like the significant expansion of the 988 behavioral health crisis line and targets set by the cancer moonshot initiative to halve cancer fatalities within 25 years. Contributions from Dr. Rahul Gupta and other officials highlighted ongoing efforts to curb the opioid epidemic. They underscored the administration’s commitment to broad health care improvements, including increased drug affordability and enhanced treatment options for addiction.

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