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Straight Talk for Seniors®: FY18 Budget & Funding for Senior Programs

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With Congress focused on health care and other issues, it’s easy to forget that they also have a deadline to fund government programs past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

In January, we provided a quick outline of what to expect this year given shifting priorities and timelines. Below are highlights of where things stand now, and our updated Aging Program Funding Table includes the latest spending levels.

FY18 House Appropriations

House appropriators are drafting FY18 spending bills that remain under the tight budget caps Congress enacted in 2011. But they’re abandoning their agreement to treat defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending the same.

Under the House legislation, defense increases $72 billion, while NDD falls $5 billion below the budget cap. That means that non-defense investments, excluding Veterans Affairs, are cut $22 billion below current FY17 levels.

Lower NDD spending means lower aging services funding. The FY18 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations (Labor-HHS) bill cuts four key programs:

  • Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is ELIMINATED. Current funding is $47.1 million, which is 10% less than last year.
  • Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is cut $100 million, or 25%. Current funding is $400 million, which is 8% less than last year.
  • Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) is cut $3 million, or 37.5%. Current funding is $8 million.
  • Elder Rights Support Activities are cut $2 million, or 14%. Current funding is $13.9 million.

During Committee debate on the Labor-HHS bill, Rep. David Price (D-NC) offered an amendment to restore funding for Administration for Community Living programs. Rep. David Young (R-IA), who has seen firsthand the value of SHIP in his state, also spoke in favor of restoring that program’s funding. The amendment was rejected along party lines, but Labor-HHS Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) offered to work with colleagues to restore funding as the process moves forward.

Some House leaders hoped to pass all 12 FY18 appropriations bills this month in a single package known as an omnibus. But only four bills that invest in national security are scheduled to be debated this week. The House is leaving for the August recess at week’s end, so further action will be deferred until September.

Senate FY18 Appropriations

Meanwhile in the Senate, the Appropriations Committee has approved three of its FY18 bills and is scheduled to consider three more this week. The Labor-HHS bill that funds most aging services will likely be one of the last measures considered, so details won’t be available until September.

House FY18 Budget Resolution

While appropriations are progressing, the House Budget Committee has approved an FY18 budget resolution that sets up the process to move budget and tax cuts this year, as well as plans for balancing the federal budget in 10 years. The resolution includes:

  • Mandatory spending: $4.4 trillion in cuts over 10 years, including:
    • $487 billion in Medicare cuts: This includes converting the Medicare coverage guarantee to premium support (using a voucher system), imposing means testing, assumes raising the eligibility age, and increasing cost sharing. Learn more in this Center for Budget and Policy Priorities analysis. Learn more in this Center for Budget and Policy Priorities analysis.
    • Additional cuts to Medicaid beyond those proposed in Affordable Care Act repeal proposals, through block grants and per capita caps, work requirements, and enhanced data reporting.
    • Possible cuts in and benefit changes for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps.
    • Potential elimination of the Social Services Block Grant, which some states use to invest in programs such as Adult Protective Services, home-delivered meals, and adult day care.
    • Repeal of Dodd-Frank financial reforms, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its Office of Older Americans.
  • NDD spending: $1.3 trillion cut over 10 years. By 2027, these investments would be 44% below the 2010 level, after adjusting for inflation.
  • Defense spending: $72 billion increase in 2018 and $929 billion increase over 10 years.
  • Tax reform: Reconciliation process established, but targets to be determined by Ways and Means Committee.

There are not enough votes to pass the House budget resolution right now. Moderates are pushing for a budget deal to raise the spending caps, while conservative factions think the resolution doesn’t cut enough.

Stay tuned to NCOA Week for the latest news as the process continues. You also can learn how to educate your members of Congress with our federal budget advocacy toolkit.

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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.