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Election 2016: What’s on the Horizon for Aging Policy?

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Washington will host a new Administration and a new Congress early next year. In the face of change, NCOA remains steadfast in finding and promoting practical, bipartisan solutions to meet the challenges of aging. Read a statement from NCOA President & CEO Jim Firman.

While much is still uncertain, here are some things we can expect in the near future.

Lame Duck Congress

Congress reconvenes this week, recesses again next week for Thanksgiving, and then tries to work quickly to wrap up a number of items in a few short weeks.

The list of must-pass items is much shorter than in recent years, and it remains to be seen whether the Congressional leadership will choose to wrap things up so 2017 can begin with a clean slate, or push these debates into next year when the White House will be Republican controlled.

The most important item for older adults is the fiscal year 2017 federal budget. Only one of the 12 individual appropriations bills was signed into law at the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. A Continuing Resolution (CR) is providing funding through Dec. 9. Appropriations staff have been working for the past several weeks to craft compromises between the House and Senate bills, with the expectation that they would be debated in early December.

Congressional appropriators have been committed to finalizing the FY17 process as quickly as possible, but the election results raise questions as to whether the Republican majority wants to wrap up this year or next.

Our greatest concern is proposed Senate cuts to the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). House appropriators proposed level funding for these programs, but Senate appropriators proposed completely defunding SHIPs and cutting SCSEP by $34 million.

NCOA strongly opposes these cuts and will need your help to ensure continued funding.

January and the First 100 Days

The 115th Congress that convenes in January will have at least 53 new Representatives and 6 new Senators (five races are pending final counts or runoffs). See our list of new members by state.

It’s never too early to think about building relationships and educating these new members about policy important to older adults. Start with our tips for Effective Advocacy at Home.

Much of early 2017, especially January, will be focused on organizing the new Congress and Administration. However, it’s tradition to set policy goals for the first 100 days.

After meeting with Congressional leadership late last week, President-elect Trump indicated that early action would focus on border security, health care, and the economy. Several reports have reinforced expectations that Congress would use the reconciliation process, which requires only 50 Senate votes and cannot be filibustered, to fast-track efforts to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and pursue tax reform. Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid also could be included.

Read more about what President-elect Trump and House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) have proposed:

What You Can Do

It’s critical that we have your voice as we address the challenges and opportunities ahead on key programs for older adults. Here are two steps you can take right now:

  1. Sign up for our advocacy alerts, so you can add your voice when needed
  2. Start educating your members of Congress on the issues

Do you have thoughts or questions about what the election means for aging policy? Please share in the comments below.

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Howard Bedlin

About Howard Bedlin

Howard Bedlin is NCOA's Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy. He is responsible for all of NCOA’s federal and state legislative advocacy efforts on issues and programs of concern to older adults, which include the Older Americans Act, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, income security, and community services programs.