More military spending was a major theme in President Trump's address to Congress last week, but one detail not stated was the source of the funding - cuts in discretionary domestic programs, one of which is the Older Americans Act (OAA). The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) is alerting advocates that the President's fiscal year 2018 budget could include 10% cuts in domestic programs. Stay tuned...
Obscured by the fire of repealing the Affordable Care Act, a more monumental reform plan in D.C. has gotten much less attention. Eliminating the entitlement nature of Medicare and Medicaid is on the minds of many Republican leaders in Congress, and even some in the new Administration. That would affect 130 million Americans - many of them elderly, poor and in poor health. While President Trump campaigned on preserving Medicare and Medicaid (as well as Social Security), his new Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price has pushed for block granting Medicaid, and changing Medicare to giving seniors a voucher to buy private insurance.
Agreeing with Secretary Price is the Republican leader of the U.S. House, Speaker Paul Ryan. The Republican leader of the Senate - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - also supports entitlement reforms. It's important to remember that the future of entitlements rests with Congress - not the President. In an NBC interview on Tuesday morning, Speaker Ryan said that the President agrees with him that Social Security and Medicare must be "rolled back" for younger Americans. But the President's to-do list in his address did not include entitlement reforms, suggesting they won't appear in his proposed budget.
In Lansing last week, the House Health & Human Services Subcommittee took testimony on critical unmet needs affecting older Michiganians. The
Silver Key Coalition
was on hand, supporting Governor Snyder's request for a $3.6 million increase for in-home services. AAA staffers testified that seniors on waiting lists are five times more likely to enter a nursing home, and about the
cost-effectiveness of the aging network, citing administrative costs of 5%
. Christine Vanlandingham of Region IV AAA shared one client's story: Terry of Watervliet, who has multiple disabilities due to MS, is living a quality life in her own home with only 10 hours of care supplementing help provided by her daughter and sister. The annual cost is only $7,700, compared with over $70,000 for a nursing home.
Also supporting the Silver Key Coalition was Melissa Seifert of AARP, who also testified for the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver, Healthy Michigan Plan, and the Governor's request for more staffing for Adult Protective Services. Senior volunteer programs were also represented, with requests for a $1 million increase for three volunteer programs to provide 162,000 more hours of volunteer service across the state, and the restoration of $2 million for senior center staffing, cut from the state budget in 2005.