When retired Air Force officer Sam Wood of Durham learned that the pharmaceutical industry was pushing back on a federal attempt to close the Medicare Part D donut hole, he took action. Like thousands of other AARP advocates, he called his members of Congress urging them to close the coverage gap. Wood manages his heart condition with several prescriptions and is worried about the future affordability of the medications his doctors prescribe. Thankfully, with your urging, he can rest a bit easier due to a spending bill Congress passed – and President Trump signed –that includes a number of positive provisions for older Americans and AARP’s priorities.
Among the victories in the bill was maintaining Medicare Part D improvements for the 11 million Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the donut hole coverage gap each year.
In addition, the spending bill increases funding for the Social Security Administration, the Administration on Aging, Housing for the Elderly, and Housing Choice Vouchers while maintaining level funding for a number of other important programs including the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, the Senior Volunteer Corps Program, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Legal Services Corporation, and the Senior Community Service Employment Program.
Special thanks to all the AARP advocates who contacted their elected leaders stressing the importance of bringing down the high cost of prescription drugs and the need to support services that allow individuals to age independently in their own homes and communities.
FY 2018 Omnibus Budget Bill -- Overview of Funding Priorities of Interest to Older Americans
Social Security Administration
- Limitation on Administrative Expenses – up $480 million to $12.869 billion
Corporation for National and Community Service
- Senior Volunteer Corps Programs -$202.117 million
Department of Labor
- SCSEP – Older Americans (Title V) - $400 million
Health & Human Services
- CMS State Survey & Certification - $397.334 million
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance – up $250 thousand to $3.640 billion
Commerce, Justice and Science
- Legal Services Corporation - up $25 million to $410 million
- Home and Community-based Supportive Services - up $38.85 million to $385.074 million
- Preventive Health - up $5 million to $24.848 million
- Protection of Vulnerable Older Americans-Title VII up $1.039 million to $21.658 million
- National Family Caregivers – up $5 million to $180.586 (includes Alzheimer's support programs)
- Lifespan Respite Care – up $750 thousand to $4.110 million
- Congregate Meals – up $40 million to $490.342 million
- Home-delivered Meals – up $19 million to $246.342 million
- Nutrition Services Incentive Program – same as FY 2017: $160.069 million
- State Health Insurance Program – up $2 million to $49.115 million
- Aging and Disability Resources – up $2 million to $8.119 million
- Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program - $9.890 million
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance - $15 million
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - $74 billion in required mandatory spending for SNAP. This is $4.5 billion below last year’s level and $400 million above the President’s budget request, reflecting the need to assist those affected by natural disasters. The total includes $3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund, equal to the President’s request, which is used to cover any unexpected participation increases.
- Seniors Farmers Market Program - $18.548 million
Housing and Urban Development
- Housing for the Elderly – up $175 million to $678 million
- Tenant-based Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers - $22.015 billion, up $1.723 billion (enough to cover all renewals – more than 140,000 vouchers were threatened; one in six residents are elderly)