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Final FY18 funding brings good news for aging services

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The “omnibus” appropriations bill that the President signed on March 23 is good news for older adults and their families who rely on aging services programs.

The legislation, which finalizes all 12 fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills, rejected many Administration and Congressional proposals to cut or eliminate programs—and even includes significant increases for some of them.

This is a critical win for older adults, their families, and the organizations that serve them. Important health and economic security programs were preserved, and investments will allow some programs to begin meeting the growing needs of older adults in their communities.

What made the difference? Persistent, year-long advocacy, along with the budget deal that raised caps on annual spending. NCOA played a key role by mobilizing advocates and leading national groups as chair of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. Thank you to everyone who took action!

What’s in the bill

The following programs had been slated for cuts or elimination, but they were preserved and/or received increases:

  • Medicare State Health Insurance Program (SHIP), proposed for elimination by the Administration and House, was increased by $2 million to $49.1 million.
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), proposed for elimination by the Administration and a $100 million cut by the House, was level-funded at $400 million.
  • Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME), proposed for a $3 million cut by the Administration and House, was level-funded at $8 million.
  • Adult Protective Services (APS) and the Elder Justice Initiative, proposed for a $2 million cut by the Administration and House, was increased by $2 million to $12 million.
  • Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), proposed for elimination by the Administration, a $115 million cut by the House, and a $15 million cut by the Senate, was level-funded at $715 million.
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), proposed for elimination by the Administration and a $40 million cut by the House, was increased by $300 million to $3.3 billion.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) administrative funding, proposed for a $400 million cut by the Senate, was increased by $480 million.
  • Prevention and Public Health Fund allocations, which were replaced by regular appropriations for CDSME and Falls Prevention at the Administration for Community Living by the Administration and House, were restored.

The following programs that were proposed for elimination by the Administration but protected in Congress also fared well in the final legislation:

  • Falls Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control was level-funded at $2.1 million.
  • Senior Corps was level-funded at $202.1 million.
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was increased by $250 million to $3.6 billion.
  • Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) was level-funded at $1.7 billion.

Older Americans Act (OAA) programs that weren’t under threat but continued to be underfunded received notable increases:

  • Supportive Services and Senior Centers: $34.9 million
  • Congregate Nutrition Program: $40 million
  • Home-Delivered Nutrition Program: $19 million
  • National Family Caregiver Support Program: $30 million
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: $5 million
  • Aging Network Support Activities: $2.5 million
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs): $2 million
  • Native American Nutrition and Supportive Services: $2 million
  • Native American Caregivers Support: $2 million
  • Protection of Vulnerable Older Americans: $1 million

Section 202 Housing for the Elderly also received an increase of $175.6 million.

NCOA was disappointed that Congress did not include a long-overdue extension of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. Enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support, MFP has helped 44 states transition over 75,000 older adults and individuals with disabilities from nursing homes back to their homes and make it easier for them to access home and community-based services. The bipartisan EMPOWER Care Act to extend the program, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Cantwell (D-WA) and in the House by Reps. Guthrie (R-KY) and Dingell (D-MI), was not included in the final bill.

What’s next

Congress is now working on FY19 appropriations. The Administration proposed another round of significant cuts, but Congressional appropriators have their own priorities, and last month’s budget deal gives them room to protect new investments and possibly add a few more.

Again this year, the major push will be to secure adequate funding and continue key programs in an omnibus legislative package. In an election year, little legislative activity occurs, so we don’t expect enactment until a post-election “lame duck” session at the earliest.

Your help will be needed throughout the year to continue to educate your members of Congress about the importance of federal investment in aging services. We also need you to keep up the fight to extend MFP. Visit our Action Center to find ways to help.

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Marci Phillips

About Marci Phillips

Marci Phillips is NCOA's Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. She oversees NCOA's advocacy efforts related to budget and appropriations for seniors’ programs, Older Americans Act, economic security and hunger, and elder justice.

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