Geriatrics Experts Oppose Budget Cuts Affecting Older Americans

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) voiced deep concern for proposed cuts to geriatrics health professions programs (which would be eliminated), healthcare research, Medicaid, and a range of services benefitting us all as we age–all cuts outlined by President Trump in his full budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017.

Released in follow-up to the President’s “skinny budget” blueprint, which also saw serious opposition from the AGS and geriatrics leaders when unveiled earlier this year, the latest, more extensive budget recommendation poses serious challenges for older adult well-being, according to a news release from the AGS:

  • Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP): “The AGS is particularly concerned that the full budget proposal eliminates the GWEP under Titles VII and VIII,” said Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA, Chief Executive Officer of the AGS, in the news release. “This is the only federal program focused on improving the quality, safety, and affordability of our care by increasing the number of professionals with the skills needed to care for us as we age.” The AGS is also concerned that the budget proposal eliminates other training programs that educate the doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, and many other health professionals who are essential to the care of older Americans. In total, the budget eliminates $403 million for these training programs.
  • National Institute on Aging (NIA): The budget reduces funding for the NIA by $294 million and reduces overall funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $5.7 billion. The AGS is deeply concerned about cuts to scientific research, given that such research has led to critical advances improving the health and quality of life of older Americans.
  • Medicaid: The budget proposal assumes enactment of the current iteration of the American Health Care Act (AHCA): House-passed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would drastically cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion[i] over ten years. The budget poses somewhat different estimates of savings from Medicaid cuts than those outlined by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before the House passed the amended AHCA. However, the budget estimates an additional $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid spending over ten years. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney suggested today that this sweeping reduction is in addition to the cuts contemplated in the AHCA. Regardless, there is no doubt that key services for older adults will be impacted in light of the size of the proposed cuts. This will impact access to long-term services and supports, nursing home care, and home health care for millions of caregivers and older adults–including ten million people with Medicare–who rely on these funds as they age.