Washington Posts – The Latest: January 2023

Happy New Year – Happy New Congress?

The 118th Congress has started the year on shaky note.  But like the newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20th) (with a record 15 ballots for that role under his belt!) and the first African American Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8th), we will make the best of it!  Washington insiders know that although bipartisanship seems to be at an all-time low, the efforts of advocates are not only needed to expand programs, but also to protect programs from cuts, which seems to be the front and center goal for House Republicans.  In fact, it is incumbent upon us to keep doing our jobs, explain to policy makers why our work is valuable and keep doing it well.

As you know, the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has changed, and Republicans are now the majority party (R:222, D:212).  This means that committee chair roles are now held by Republicans, with Democrats serving as Ranking Members.  Committees for GWEP/GACA reauthorization are Energy & Commerce in the House and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) in the Senate.  The Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education will be chaired by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4th).  Rosa DeLauro will continue as the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.  See the full list of Appropriations Republican subcommittee chairs.

Some of the key committees and leaders are listed below, find a complete list of House committees and their members here.

U.S. House of Rep. Committee

Chair (R)

Ranking (D)


Kay Granger (TX)

Rosa DeLauro (CT)


Jodey Arrington (TX)

Brendan Boyle (PA)

Education and the Workforce

Virginia Foxx (NC)

Bobby Scott (VA)

Energy and Commerce

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)

Frank Pallone (NJ)


Jim Jordan (OH)

Jerry Nadler (NY)

Veterans’ Affairs

Mike Bost (IL)

Mark Takano (CA)

Ways and Means

Jason Smith (MO)

Richard Neal (MA)

In the U.S. Senate, Democrats are in the majority because Independents caucus with the Democrats, and Republicans are the minority party (D: 48; I: 3; R: 49).  Senate leaders remain the same with Charles Schumer (D-NY) as Majority Leader, Dick Durbin (D-IL) as Majority Whip, Mitch McConnell (D-KY) as Minority Leader and John Thune as Minority Whip (R-SD).  There was a bit of musical chairs in some of the committees (see partial list below); for example, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will chair the Appropriations Committee (no longer chairs the Senate HELP Committee) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will be Vice Chair of Senate Appropriations, replacing Senators Leahy and Shelby respectively.  They will be formally named to serve when the Senate returns Jan. 23rd.  The Senate is still working out the size of committees and subcommittees and their leadership.  Note that the new Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), is a physician.  Also important to aging policy, Senator Mike Braun is now the Ranking Member of the Special Committee on Aging.

U.S. Senate Committee

Chair (D)

Ranking or Vice Chair (R)


Patty Murray (WA)

Susan Collins (ME)

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Sherrod Brown (OH)

Tim Scott (SC)


Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

Lindsey Graham (SC)


Ron Wyden (OR)

Mike Crapo (ID)

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Bill Cassidy (LA)


Dick Durbin (IL)

Chuck Grassley (IA)

Veterans’ Affairs

Jon Tester (MT)

Jerry Moran (KS)

Aging (Special)

Bob Casey (PA)

Mike Braun (IN)

All About the Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act

The Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2023 (CAA 23) Public Law 117-328

was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022.  This omnibus legislation appropriates funds for federal agencies for FY2023, and includes provisions on many other issues, such as emergency assistance for Ukraine, retirement policy, health care, and other proposals.  Here are good overviews on health care related provisions and on Secure 2.0 retirement policies.

A provision in the CAA 23 is the extension of Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person program through 2027.  This enables states to apply for grants to help with transitional services for Medicaid participants who are moving from an institutional setting to a community-based residence.  Spousal Impoverishment – extends through 2027 the provision that applies the spousal impoverishment protections to couples whose spouse lives in a community setting (in addition to the protections for a couple whose spouse lives in a nursing home).

The Covid-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) was extended on January 11 for 90 days by Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services.  When the PHE is finally lifted (possibly in April), several things will happen, although the Biden administration has promised to give stakeholders 60 days’ notice before letting the Covid-19 PHE expire.  For example, states will start redeterminations of Medicaid eligibility.  Experts believe that millions of people could lose health care coverage under Medicaid when this happens.  In addition, telehealth provisions would expire at the end of the PHE but have been extended until the end of 2024 in CAA 23.  Note: The House Oversight Committee plans to investigate the PHE, the PPP loan program, the origins of the coronavirus, and other issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Funding Details:

  • HHS: $120.7 billion, an increase of $9.9 billion;
  • NIH: $47.5 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion with no less than 3.8 % increase for each institute and center at NIH, with an increase of $226 million above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research;
  • NIA: funded at $4.4 billion, an increase of $187 million;
  • ARPA-H: funded at $1.5 billion, an increase of $500 million to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs;
  • HRSA Workforce: $579 million, an increase of $60 million for Title VII Health Professions Education and Training;
  • Geriatric Programs: $47 million, an increase of $2 million;
  • Social Security Administration: $14 billion, an increase of $785 million;
  • CDC: $9.2 billion, increase of $760 million;
  • AHRQ: $373.5 million, an increase of $23 million;
  • Administration for Community Living (ACL): $2.5 billion, an increase of $220 million;
  • Direct Care Workforce Demonstration is funded at $2 million;
  • Home and Community-Based Services and Senior Centers: funded at $410 million, an increase of $11 million;
  • Preventive Health Services: funded at $26 million, an increase of $1.5 million;
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers: funded at $8.6 million, an increase of $500,000;
  • National Family Caregiver Support Program: funded at $205 million, increase of $11 million;
  • Lifespan Respite Care: funded at $10 million, an increase of nearly $2 million;
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman: funded at $21.6 million, an increase of $2 million;
  • Elder Rights/Adult Protective Services: funded at $33.9 million, an increase of $15 million;
  • Section 202 Housing for the Elderly: funded at $1,075 billion, an increase of $42 million and Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities funded at $360 million, an increase of $8 million (about 2,800 new affordable housing units for older people and people with disabilities);
  • LIHEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program): funded at $4 billion, an increase of $200 million.

Social Security and Medicare Changes

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries, including those on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is 8.7%, the largest percentage increase since 1981.  The Medicare Part B monthly premium declines from $170.10 per month to $164.90 in 2023.  And, under changes to the earnings for those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the threshold for monthly income rises from $1,350 to $1,470 in 2023 for most disabled beneficiaries.  Read more earnings test and tax changes from AARP.

Debt Ceiling Stand-Off

The debt ceiling was reached on January 19.  U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assured the country that the Treasury Department can take “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the bills for several months. Ultimately, though, the Biden administration and the Congress will have to come to an agreement on the debt limit.  House Republicans have stated that they plan to use the need to raise the debt limit as leverage to cut social spending.  Stay tuned because programs serving older adults will be on the line.  Here are two statements regarding the debt limit and threats to Social Security and Medicare from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR).

  • A statement on Republicans’ plans to threaten Social Security and Medicare.
  • A statement on the debt limit.