Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were all targets of the major slashes Getty Images The proposed cuts would impact social programs that serve seniors — but they aren’t expected to pass.
By Alessandra Malito Reporter
The president’s proposed budget for next year could spell trouble for older Americans — but not if Congress has anything to say about it (and it will).
The record $4.7 trillion federal budget for 2020 calls for a 5% cut to social programs , including $845 billion from Medicare, $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and as much as $84 billion in Social Security disability benefits , all to be implemented over the next 10 years if passed.
The budget also asks for $8.6 billion for the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, the contentious topic that sparked the monthlong government shutdown earlier this year, and more spending for defense, including the new Space Force. The budget proposal isn’t a done deal. It acts as a blueprint to Congress, which enacts its own spending legislation the president can approve or reject.
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Fellow legislators and others criticized the budget on Twitter, TWTR, +0.37% saying such deep cuts to these social safety-net programs would hurt vulnerable Americans who are already struggling.
Many on social media also noted President Trump had vowed not to cut funding for these programs during his campaign, in debates as well as on Twitter.
“I watched most of those primary debates and the candidate Trump said many times ‘I’m not going to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” said Max Richtman, president and chief executive officer of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “It turns out this is his budget and those were empty promises.” I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
The White House said in the proposed budget it would like to empower states and consumers to reform health care. “Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, healthcare spending has increased significantly, particularly premiums for families without employer-sponsored coverage who don’t qualify for Obamacare subsidies,” it said. “The proposals in the budget strive to put States back into the healthcare driver’s seat as States are best situated to make decisions to improve the health and healthcare delivery of their citizens.”
The White House also said one of its main priorities is to serve older Americans through funding of programs like senior nutrition programs.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed disinterest in following the guidelines of this budget proposal. Rep. John Yarmuth, the Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee from Kentucky, said the cuts to essential services were “dangerous.” Yarmuth also said the president added nearly $2 trillion in deficits from tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and that it “now appears his budget asks the American people to pay the price.”
Sen. Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming and chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said earlier this month he intends to draft a “realistic” spending and revenue plan , which would look at the next five years instead of the next 10.
The proposed budget cuts, if they were to pass, could trickle down to assistance programs, like Meals on Wheels and other nutrition services that offer homebound older Americans and the sick cooked food. Other potentially impacted services might include those that pay for utilities to keep the elderly warm, Richtman said. Funding for these programs come partially through the Community Development Grant program, which the White House has suggested eliminating in the proposed budget. If the federal government downsizes the amount allocated, states will have to pick up the extra costs, if possible. “It will be difficult to come up with most of that money,” he said.
Social Security offices could be short-staffed, resulting in longer wait times to get answers to enrollment or benefit questions. The budget proposes cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance, which helps many older Americans in their late 50s and early 60s, said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, which advocates for expanding the program.
The budget also proposes changing how much disabled workers get in retroactive payments from the time they were disabled to the time their disability application passed, Altman said. Under current law, Americans can get as much as 12 months of retroactive pay, but the proposal suggests reducing that to six months.
Also see: How Medicare premiums could be the key to itemizing your taxes — and saving money
But the White House’s plan to shift responsibility to states could result in fewer Americans getting help they need, Altman said. “The spin is states have all this flexibility, but if they don’t have enough money the flexibility is figuring out who to turn down,” she said. Six out of 10 people in nursing homes receive Medicaid assistance, which means they may never have had the money to pay for those services or they already spent down all of their assets. “If states don’t have enough money to pay that then they’re out of luck,” she said. Alessandra Malito Alessandra Malito is a personal finance reporter based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @malito_ali. We Want to Hear from You
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