2021 NAELA Public Policy Priorities

I. Supporting People with Disabilities and Older Adults During the COVID-19
To date, nearly 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. Moreover, individuals over 85 are 630 times more likely to die from the disease than someone between the ages of 18 to 29. While the world is on the cusp of several vaccines, the epidemic will likely continue through much of 2021. For 2021, NAELA will continue to advocate on policy areas that have arisen during COVID-19, including emergency funding for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), the rights and safety of nursing home residents and people in other congregate settings, and the different emergency Medicaid waivers (1115, 1135, 1915(c) Appendix K).
 
II. Addressing the Effects of Medicaid’s Institutional Bias 
Far too many individuals with disabilities and older adults end up in institutional settings when they could otherwise receive HCBS services. The primary cause is that federal law guarantees institutional care and makes HCBS optional under Medicaid. As a result, individuals often fail to qualify for HCBS; find that no or inadequate HCBS exists in their area if they do qualify; or the process to get HCBS takes too long to prevent unnecessary institutionalization. NAELA will continue to work with its coalition partners to advocate for the continued implementation of key policy changes to address the effects of Medicaid’s institutional bias, such as Money Follows the Person and the requirement that states apply spousal impoverishment protections to Medicaid HCBS waivers.  
 
III. Monitoring Tax Policy for Impacts on People with Disabilities and Older Adults 
Tax policy is ever evolving, such as with the 2019 passage of the SECURE Act and the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Few organizations understand how the tax code impacts people with chronic illness and disabilities outside of NAELA. The TCJA individual tax provisions expire in 2025, and Democrats are eager to reverse policies such as limits to the state and local tax deduction. Additionally, discussions over retirement tax policy changes and other items, such as to ABLE accounts will continue through this Congress.

NAELA Partners and Coalitions

Working Together to Support Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities
NAELA advocates with its allies on a broad range of issues impacting seniors and persons with disabilities before Congress, regulators, and the courts. NAELA accomplishes this through participation in a number of coalitions:
 
I. Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. A coalition of 69 prominent national aging advocacy organizations that represent millions of older Americans. Together, we work to preserve and strengthen the well-being of America’s older population.
 
II. Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. The largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. Since 1973, CCD has advocated on behalf of people of all ages with physical and mental disabilities and their families.
 
III. Disability & Aging Collaborative. A coalition of national aging and disability organizations working to advance long-term services and supports for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The coalition is now focused primarily on enhancing access to home and community-based services (HCBS), rebalancing, and ensuring consumer engagement, protections, and quality in duals integration and managed long-term services and supports (LTSS).

NAELA will advocate on these broader issues that adhere to our public policy guidelines. Read our guidelines.