2018 Proposed Budget Update and Potential Impact to Seniors
The President has sent his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget to Congress. The budget makes strong investments in defense programs at the expense of non-defense discretionary and other anti-hunger and poverty programs. Thankfully, the proposed budget does not cut Older Americans Act funding, but it does decimate other programs essential to keeping our clients safe, healthy, financially secure and independent.
While this budget calls for funding cuts to critical programs, it is important to remember that it is just a proposal. It is ultimately up to Congress to negotiate, set and pass final funding levels. This means that we have an opportunity to work together to stop these cuts from happening.
The National Council on Aging identified 10 ways the Administration’s budget, if enacted, would impact senior programs. They are:
1. Medicaid - cut by $627 billion: Nearly 7 million low-income seniors rely on Medicaid for their health and long-term care. This cut is on top of the $839 billion proposed cut in the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. Taken together, this would mean almost $1.3 trillion in Medicaid cuts over 10 years. Bear in mind that Medicaid long-term care coverage is the primary means by which most Americans receive long-term care in this nation.
2. Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) - eliminated: The budget eliminates the nation’s only job training and placement program specifically for older adults. Last year under SCSEP, 70,000 older adults received on-the-job training while providing nearly 36 million hours of staff support to 30,000 organizations.
3. Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) - eliminated: Each year this program supports 15,000+ counselors who provide free, state-specific assistance to over 6 million beneficiaries.
4. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - eliminated: This program helps low-income individuals pay for their heating and cooling costs. About a third of the 6.8 million households receiving LIHEAP benefits include an older adults.
5. Block Grants (SSBG, CSBG, CDBG) - eliminated: These programs provide states and localities with funding for low-income families and seniors through services like home care, congregate and home-delivered meals, and transportation. An estimated 4.4 million older adults receive services under SSBG and CSBG.
6. Senior Corps and AmeriCorps - eliminated: These national service programs enlist older adults in volunteerism and serve seniors in communities nationwide. Last year, 245,000 Senior Corps volunteers provided 74.6 million hours of service.
7. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - cut by $194 billion: The budget also shifts more funding responsibilities to the states and erodes policies that streamline access for seniors and people with disabilities. Almost 5 million seniors rely on SNAP benefits to afford food.
8. CDC Falls Prevention - eliminated: Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. The budget eliminates $2 million in falls prevention funding in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) budget. However, it retains $5 million in falls prevention funding in the Administration for Community Living budget.
9. Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) - cut by $3 million: Over 90% of older adults have at least one chronic disease and two-thirds have two or more. The budget cuts federal funding for community-based workshops for people with chronic conditions from $8 million to $5 million, or 37.5%.
10. Older Americans Act (OAA) and Elder Justice Act (EJA) - increases reversed: The budget reverses the modest FY17 increases for Supportive Services, Senior Nutrition, Caregiver Support, Native American programs, and the Elder Justice Act.
What is important to understand is that the infrastructure to support elders and their families has been eroding because of underfunding; yet the services that are delivered by the Area Agencies on Aging and others not only directly benefit seniors, but also save public funds, as we know from the success of Choices for Care and Meals on Wheels.
What happens next? Congress takes the budget from here. The House will write its own version, which may include some of these proposals or scale them back. Members of both parties have indicated that the cuts the Administration is proposing may be too deep. The FY17 budget expires on Sept. 30, so the clock is ticking for Congress to adopt a new budget by then.