NCOA Statement on President Obama’s Proposed Budget
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NCOA Statement on President Obama’s Proposed Budget

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April 10, 2013

Statement of Howard Bedlin, NCOA Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy on President Obama’s Proposed Budget

President Obama’s budget proposal is a mixed-bag when it comes to America’s seniors. NCOA is pleased that the President’s budget eliminates the sequester cuts to critical programs like Meals on Wheels and other Older Americans Act services, elderly housing, and other vital senior services. These and other non-defense discretionary programs have shouldered too much of the deficit reduction burden, and continuing down the path of sequestration will cause long-term damage, resulting in a growing number of seniors unable to meet their basic needs. It is unfortunate that cuts are proposed for low-income energy assistance and senior job training and placement programs.

NCOA is also pleased that the President’s budget protects SNAP (Food Stamps) and Medicaid, in sharp contrast to the drastic cuts approved in the House. Cuts in Medicaid would be devastating to the millions of vulnerable seniors who rely on the program for long-term care and Medicare low-income protections.

NCOA strongly supports a balanced package for deficit reduction that includes increasing revenues. Of the over $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction recently achieved, for every $1 in new revenues there have been approximately $2.80 in program cuts for 2013-2022. The Senate budget resolution, which NCOA supports, includes $1 in cuts for every $1 in revenues. The President, however, has proposed a 2-to-1 ratio in spending cuts vs. revenues, which is not as balanced or fair as the Senate proposal.

A major concern with the President’s budget surrounds Medicare and Social Security. While NCOA supports some of the Medicare reductions, the proposed $370 billion in additional cuts are excessive and several will harm beneficiaries. These cuts are on top of $716 billion in Medicare cuts under health reform and significant reductions in spending growth over the past three years. More than half of all Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line – or about $23,000 a year – and already face significant out-of-pocket costs. Four provisions are especially damaging to seniors:

  1. The proposed new home health copayment will fall primarily on lower-income older women with multiple chronic health conditions, and lead to premature nursing home placement.
  2. The proposed increase in the Medicare Part B deductible would be especially harmful and unaffordable to millions of seniors with incomes just above the federal poverty line ($958 per month).
  3. The proposed Medigap surcharge would penalize seniors for decisions made by their doctors, cause major market disruption, and seriously confuse many current policy holders.
  4. The proposal to further increase Medicare premiums based on income could result in those with incomes of about $47,000 being forced to pay more.

Current Medicare low-income protections are deeply flawed and much less generous than for those under age 65. NCOA is disappointed that, while the President included low-income protections in his Chained CPI proposal, no effort was made to improve such Medicare protections under his proposals to increase out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries.

NCOA joins virtually every other national senior organization in opposing the President’s proposal to cut the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) through the use of a Chained CPI, which Republican leaders did not include in their budget, and has never been the subject of a Congressional hearing.

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Public Policy Priorities

See the issues we're fighting for in the 113th Congress, including the budget, Older Americans Act, and long-term services and supports.