There has been significant coverage of President Trump’s $18 billion proposed budget cuts from non-defense discretionary finding in this current fiscal year. Some of these cuts will hit older adults hard. Proposed cuts include or total elimination include:
- The State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) – eliminating $49 million of the $52 million dollar funding.
- Older Americans Act Title V Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) – total elimination.
- Senior Corps: All three programs (Senior Companion, RSVP and Foster Grandparents) – cuts of 60-80%.
- Community Services Block Grant- eliminates $306 million of $715 million provided in FY 2017.
- Community Development Block Grant – cuts of roughly 50%.
What does this mean for older adults?
- SHIP funds the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program in California (HICAP). HICAP saves money for people on Medicare by helping them enroll in more cost-effective plans, appealing billing errors and getting them help with outstanding bills or penalties — all of which the program’s mostly volunteer counselors are trained to do. HICAP is highly cost effective because of the number of trained volunteers that work in the program. Last year, the Northern California HICAP provided services to 5,146 Medicare beneficiaries in the nine-county area where it operates.
- As older adults live longer and sometimes outlive their retirement, seeking and finding employment is essential. SCSEP is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55+ find work. SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time jobs for community service organizations. Participants build skills and self-confidence, while earning a modest income. For most, their SCSEP experience leads to permanent employment.
- Senior Corps achieves two significant goals. First, it provides volunteers to work throughout the community, volunteering as foster grandparents, senior companion, and in many other capacities. Second, it provides older adults with the opportunity to stay connected and to give back to their community. The benefits of volunteerism is huge. Senior Corps connects today’s 55+ with the people and organizations that need them most. It helps them become mentors, coaches or companions to people in need, or contribute their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations. Volunteers receive guidance and training so they can make a contribution that suits their talents, interests, and availability. Conceived during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, Senior Corps currently links more than 270,000 Americans to service opportunities. Their contributions of skills, knowledge, and experience make a real difference to individuals, nonprofits, and faith-based and other community organizations throughout the United States.
- Community Block Grants are used for funding many programs. Meals on Wheels is a program that supports the delivery of meals to 2.4 million homebound older adults and does get funding from the Community Development Block Grant program. Meals on Wheels would not be eliminated. However, it already is cannot keep up with the demands of the rapidly increasing aging population. Cuts would only add to potential food insecurity among older adults.
It is abundantly clear that the local aging network should be expanding programs to meet the great increases in need as the Baby Boomers continue to age. Elimination of programs only adds to the scarcity of services for our most vulnerable adults.