Congress Cuts Funding for Two Senior Programs
by Howard Bedlin, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy for the National Council on Aging (NCOA). This article originally appeared on the NCOA blog.
Last week, Congress approved a final fiscal year 2017 (FY17) appropriations bill that will keep the government funded through Sept. 30—but with significant cuts to two critical programs for seniors.
The bipartisan funding package is a strong indicator of which programs will face even deeper cuts when Congress turns its attention to FY18 funding this summer.
Here’s a run-down of winners and losers for FY17. Download our funding table for a complete list.
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP): $34.4 million cut (from $434.4 million to $400 million)
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. Yet, the program remains a target for cuts—and even elimination under the Trump Administration’s FY18 budget proposal. SCSEP is the nation’s only jobs programs for seniors, and funding reductions mean significantly fewer disadvantaged older adults will be able to return to the workforce.
- State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): $5 million cut (from $52.1 million to $47.1 million)
SHIPs provide local, personalized counseling to people with Medicare and their families. In 2015, SHIPs helped more than 6 million people understand their Medicare benefits, address coverage appeals and billing issues, and apply for programs to save money on health and insurance costs. Funding reductions mean SHIPs will have even more difficulty keeping up with the demand for their services as 10,000 Americans become eligible for Medicare each day.
Modest Funding Increases
On the positive side, most Older Americans Act (OAA) programs were level-funded, and several will receive small but much-needed increases for FY17. These include:
- Supportive Services: $2.5 million increase
- Congregate Nutrition: $2 million increase
- Home-Delivered Nutrition: $1 million increase
- Grants for Native Americans: $50,000 increase
- Native American Caregivers Support: $25,000 increase
The Elder Justice Initiative also will receive a $2 million increase. Other FY17 winners include the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) with a $13.9 increase, Housing Counseling with an $8 million increase, and Section 202 Housing for the Elderly with a $69.7 million increase.
Two important healthy aging programs will maintain their current funding levels for the rest of FY17:
- Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) will receive $8 million allocated to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF).
- Falls Prevention will receive $5 million allocated to ACL from the PPHF and $2.05 million from appropriations to the Centers for Disease Control.
PPHF funding is under threat starting in FY18, due to Administration and Congressional proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Several other programs that the Administration has proposed eliminating in FY18 also will retain their current funding:
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at $3.39 billion
- Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) at $715 million
- Senior Corps at $202.1 million
The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) also is expected to be under threat, but it was preserved at its current $1.7 billion level.
Stay tuned for details about the FY18 funding cycle as they emerge.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.