Federal Budget Proposals Put Seniors At Risk

Washington— The following message was issued by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging in response to recent budget proposals on the national level:

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is gravely concerned that the deep cuts to vital community programs included in the budget proposal President Trump sent to Congress earlier this week pose significant threats to the well-being of older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Our analysis shows that the Trump Administration’s budget plan undermines the critical supports that millions of older adults and their caregivers rely upon to remain independent and out of poverty. If enacted by Congress, the budget would place the health, safety and independence of the country’s older adults in serious jeopardy,” said n4a CEO Sandy Markwood. “n4a urges Congress to reject the drastic cuts included in the Trump Budget and instead focus on ensuring that funding levels reflect the needs of our nation’s rapidly growing aging population while supporting the cost-effective home and community-based services that for years have successfully addressed those needs in every community across the country.

“If enacted, the Trump budget would eliminate key federal programs that help low-income older adults meet their basic needs, find jobs to make ends meet, receive one-on-one help understanding their Medicare and other benefits, give back to their communities through volunteerism and—most importantly—provide the supportive services that help them live independently at home and in the community,” said Markwood. 

“A bright spot in the budget is that the President wisely preserves most Older Americans Act (OAA) programs and services funded through the U.S. Administration on Aging. Although the level funding proposed will not allow local agencies to keep up with escalating demand, the fact that these programs were spared deep cuts means older adults will continue to receive in-home services, home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation, caregiver supports, evidence-based health and wellness programs and other vital services that enable them to maintain their dignity and independence.

“Federal programs do not work in isolation. The cuts in the Trump budget would have a ripple effect on the ability of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to provide services in their communities. Local agencies draw from a range of federal and state funding streams to create a patchwork network of resources to support the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. For example, the elimination of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) would create undue pressure on the ability of the two-thirds of Area Agencies on Aging that receive funding to continue to provide personalized insurance counseling to Medicare beneficiaries. As a result of the budget’s proposed cuts, consumers needing assistance related to Medicare who contact their Area Agency on Aging would find that the AAA’s trained SHIP counselors would no longer be able to help—because the Trump budget eliminates this vital program,” predicted Markwood.

“The Trump budget plan’s elimination of the OAA Title V Senior Community Service Employment Program would reduce the number of AAA workers and volunteers, affecting how many people these agencies can serve. Most of these agencies receive block grant dollars (SSBG, CSBG, CDBG; see our analysis) to supplement their limited OAA funding. The elimination of these programs would mean fewer meals, fewer rides to the doctor and fewer hours of in-home care.

“And finally, proposed reductions to Medicare, Medicaid and long-term services and supports would endanger the health and independence of millions of older adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid funds two-thirds of long-term care and would see a $200 billion cut over 10 years in the Trump budget. Cuts of this magnitude to federal health care and safety net programs would significantly reduce benefits and services available to older adults who often have complicated health and long-term care needs,” said Markwood.

“In short, the budget put forth by the Trump Administration makes cuts to vital programs that older adults rely on, which endangers this country’s longstanding commitment to help ensure its citizens live with dignity and independence at home and in their communities.”

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