10 Ways the Ryan Budget Could Harm Older Americans
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10 Ways the Ryan Budget Could Harm Older Americans

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April 9, 2014

Media Contact
Jean Van Ryzin
202-600-3166
jean.vanryzin@ncoa.org

Washington, DC – The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a budget resolution from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that could significantly harm our nation’s seniors, particularly millions struggling to make ends meet.

The Ryan proposal cuts federal spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years, with almost $3 trillion coming from health care and 69% from programs for low-income Americans.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has identified 10 ways this proposal could harm seniors:

1. It repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The proposal eliminates ACA provisions that reduce prescription drug costs; keep frail seniors in their homes; improve access to prevention services, including falls; provide a free annual wellness visit; improve chronic care; reduce Medicare fraud; improve nursing home quality; and reduce hospital readmissions. It would, however, maintain Medicare cuts in the ACA.   

2. It significantly cuts non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs.

The budget would cut non-defense spending by $791 billion, while increasing military spending by $483 billion. Funding for Older Americans Act programs like Meals on Wheels, family caregiver support, job training, senior centers, and disease prevention programs, would suffer significant cuts when the need for these services is increasing. Over time, these programs—which are NOT contributing to the federal budget deficit—would be cut by 22% below current levels.  

3. It cuts Medicare in four ways.

The proposal would increase the Medicare eligibility age, raise the deductible amount for doctor visits, penalize or prohibit people from buying first-dollar private Medigap coverage, and increase monthly premiums for middle-class seniors with incomes over $46,000 per year. 

4. It significantly cuts and block grants Medicaid.

Medicaid covers almost two-thirds of long-term care costs for older Americans. The proposal cuts this safety net by $732 billion, delivering a devastating blow to frail, vulnerable seniors who depend on it. Block granting Medicaid means current federal nursing home quality standards and protections for the spouses and children of nursing home residents could be repealed.  

5. It completely restructures Medicare.

The “premium support” proposal could significantly increase Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs because the defined contribution amount would not keep pace over time with the cost of care. Those who remain in the traditional program also could be forced to pay higher premiums.    

6. It cuts food benefits for hungry seniors.

The proposal would cut an additional $137 billion, on top of the $8 billion already enacted in the farm bill, from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps hungry older adults afford healthy food.

7. It eliminates the Senior Corps.

Eliminating Senior Corps means an end to volunteer opportunities that provide services to frail elderly and children with disabilities, along with stipends for thousands of low-income senior volunteers, when millions of retiring baby boomers want to give back to their communities.   

8. It eliminates the SSBG program.

The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is the only consistent federal funding for adult protective services, and it expands the reach of home-delivered meals, medical transportation, adult day care, and in-home services.

9. It cuts the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

At least $500 billion in cuts in “other mandatory” programs would include SSI, affecting over 2 million low-income seniors. Cuts to SSI would drive the nation’s most vulnerable seniors into extreme poverty. 

10. It threatens efforts to reduce elder financial abuse.

The proposal removes the autonomy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) budget—a possible first step toward dismantling the agency. This threatens the CFPB Office of Older Americans and its efforts to protect against elder financial exploitation.

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About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.

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