House Budget Reconciliation Sets Disturbing Precedent for Seniors Programs
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House Budget Reconciliation Sets Disturbing Precedent for Seniors Programs

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May 18, 2012

Budget Basics

Use our glossary to understand budget terms.

The House has passed a budget resolution that includes several proposals harmful to seniors.

In addition to outlining significant spending reductions for FY13, it includes program changes and eliminations that would be felt for 10 years or more.

Examples include $36 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or Food Stamps) and repeal of the Social Services Block Grant and Prevention and Public Health Fund.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The House Agriculture Committee proposed that all of its reconciliation savings come from reductions in SNAP, leaving all other programs under its jurisdiction unscathed.

Cuts approved total $36 billion and would be achieved by:

  • Repealing a boost in benefits from the stimulus bill early (June 30, 2012)
  • Severely restricting categorical eligibility.
  • Completely eliminating the connection between LIHEAP and SNAP (Heat and Eat), thus reducing or eliminating access to benefits in 15 states and DC.
  • Eliminating the 50% federal match for SNAP employment and training.
  • Eliminating state performance bonuses for improving program accuracy and participation rates.
  • Eliminating the inflationary index for SNAP nutrition education funding.

Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)

The House Ways and Means Committee was tasked with identifying $53 billion in savings and reportedly exceeded that amount by approximately $10 billion. It included a permanent repeal of SSBG, cutting $17 billion over 10 years.

SSBG is flexible funding for states to assist some of the most vulnerable Americans, particularly with child and adult protective services.

In 2009, 34 states used $216 million in SSBG funds to provide adult protective services (APS) to 579,465 seniors who were victims of abuse or neglect.

Such services are not funded by the Older Americans Act, and until appropriations are provided for the Elder Justice Act, SSBG is the only consistent source of federal funding for APS.

Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF)

A total of $90 billion in savings are expected to come from health programs, including repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund and elimination of any unobligated PPHF funding.

The Fund was created by the Affordable Care Act to invest in proven state and local programs to promote wellness, prevent disease, and protect against public health emergencies.

The Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) will receive $10 million from the PPHF for FY12, and NCOA is advocating for continuing this allocation and providing another $10 million for Elder Falls Prevention for FY13.

The Fund has already been reduced to $1 billion in FY13, and the Administration’s budget request proposes $4.5 billion reduction over 10 years starting in FY14.

What's Ahead

While the House passed the legislation, it will not be taken up in the Senate.

However, the greater concern is that some of these proposals will continue to surface—as some already have in deficit debates over the past year—and may be given serious consideration to avert an automatic sequester that is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013.

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