Trump’s War on the Poor, Elderly and Vulnerable: Major Cuts to Senior Programs and Services

When Ronald Reagan was President he proposed to return federal funds to states as block grants with the belief that the states could better determine needs and manage the programs.  Now President Trump proposes to eliminate the Social Services Block Grant which funds adult protective services programs, the Community Services Block Grant which funds local anti-poverty programs, and the Community Development Block Grant which provides some funds for home delivered meals, and numerous other programs which benefit older persons.   I reported in a previous post that Medicaid is proposed to be cut by $800 billion over ten years.  The food stamp program (SNAP) is set for major cuts as well as Social Security Disability and SSI.

Trump also wants to do away entirely with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and also eliminate the Senior Corps which has 245,000 older persons serving as volunteers, quite often for children and the disabled.  He also wants to eliminate Americorps.    Though Congress is likely to reject many of these cuts, the budget proposal is nothing more than a war on the poor, the weak and the vulnerable including  needy older persons.

The National Council of Aging’s Legislative Director Howard Bedlin has released a summary of ten major cuts impacting seniors.  He notes that many of the programs proposed for cuts have been around for decades

Here are 10 ways the Administration’s budget—if enacted—would impact senior programs:

Medicaid: Cut by $627 billion

The budget cuts Medicaid by $627 billion over 10 years. This is on top of the $839 billion proposed cut in the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. Taken together, this would mean almost $1.3 trillion in Medicaid cuts over 10 years, an estimated 45% reduction in 2026. Nearly 7 million low-income seniors rely on Medicaid for their health and long-term care.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP): Eliminated

The budget eliminates the nation’s only job training and placement program specifically for older adults. Last year under SCSEP, 70,000 older adults received on-the-job training while providing nearly 36 million hours of staff support to 30,000 organizations.

Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP): Eliminated

The budget eliminates this program that each year supports 15,000+ counselors who provide free, state-specific assistance to over 6 million beneficiaries.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Eliminated

The budget eliminates this program that helps low-income individuals pay for their heating and cooling costs. About a third of the 6.8 million households receiving LIHEAP benefits include an older adult aged 60+.

Block Grants (SSBG, CSBG, CDBG): Eliminated

The budget eliminates the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). These programs provide states and localities with funding to improve economic security and independence for low-income families and seniors through services like home care, congregate and home-delivered meals, and transportation. SSBG is the only source of federal funding for Adult Protective Services. An estimated 4.4 million older adults receive services under SSBG and CSBG.

Senior Corps & AmeriCorps: Eliminated

The budget eliminates both of these national service programs that enlist older adults in volunteerism and serve seniors in communities nationwide. Last year, 245,000 Senior Corps volunteers provided 74.6 million hours of service.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Cut by $194 billion

Federal SNAP funding would be cut by $194 billion over 10 years. The budget also shifts more funding responsibilities to the states and erodes policies that streamline access for seniors and people with disabilities. Almost 5 million seniors rely on SNAP benefits to afford food.

CDC Falls Prevention: Eliminated

The budget eliminates $2 million in falls prevention funding in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) budget. However, it retains $5 million in falls prevention funding in the Administration for Community Living budget. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall; every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury.

Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME): Cut by $3 million

The budget cuts federal funding for community-based workshops for people with chronic conditions from $8 million to $5 million, or 37.5%. Over 90% of older adults have at least one chronic disease and two-thirds have two or more.

Older Americans Act (OAA) and Elder Justice Act (EJA): Increases reversed

The budget reverses the modest FY17 increases for Supportive Services, Senior Nutrition, Caregiver Support, Native American programs, and the Elder Justice Act.

Download the NCOA  funding table for a complete list of aging services programs.

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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