March 08, 2018
President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget
On February 12, 2018, President Trump submitted his Fiscal Year 2019 budget to Congress. Congress is not expected to act on his recommendations, because the House and Senate reached an agreement on a two-year spending deal earlier this year. This blueprint, however, reflects the President’s priorities and would hurt older Americans.
The budget cuts non-defense discretionary spending by more than 40%, or $2 trillion. The $2 trillion cut is equal to the revenue shortfall caused by the recently enacted tax cut.
The President proposed cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — breaking his campaign promise to protect these programs from cuts. At the same time, the budget provides wealthy Americans with an additional $550 billion in tax cuts.
The Trump budget cuts Medicare by more than $250 billion over 10 years. This represents a 7% cut and includes structural changes to the program.
Cuts Social Security
The Trump budget cuts $72 billion from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which provides benefits to disabled beneficiaries, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which helps low-income individuals. President Trump also proposed limiting funds for Social Security’s administrative expenses. This will lead to more work for the staff, longer wait times for beneficiaries and possibly more office closings.
Repeals the Health Care Law and cuts Medicaid
The budget also includes repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with something similar to the Graham-Cassidy bill that Congress debated last year. This legislation would have resulted in 32 million Americans losing health insurance. The President would also cut Medicaid, including the Medicaid expansion, by more than 22% and convert the program to a block grant to the states. Under the block grant, the amount states would receive to provide health insurance to poor and disabled American would be limited and not keep up with medical inflation. In turn, states are likely to scale back the program by requiring co-pays, reducing coverage or changing eligibility requirements.
Cuts Senior Nutrition Assistance
The President’s budget cuts funding for senior nutrition programs, including Meals-on-Wheels, that provide food to low-income housebound seniors by eliminating the Social Services (SSBG) and the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The budget also cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) by almost 30%, which provides food assistance to 4.6 million low-income households with a person 60 years or older.
Eliminates the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The budget eliminates LIHEAP, which helps low-income individuals — a third of whom are seniors — with the cost of cooling and heating their homes.
Cuts Housing Assistance
The budget cuts public housing by 20 percent and mandates work requirements for individuals receiving subsidies. While seniors and the disabled would be exempt, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates 200,000 seniors and disabled individuals could lose their rental assistance.
Decimates the Legal Services Corporation
The budget makes deep cuts to the Legal Services Corporation. This government agency administers the elder justice program, which provides federal resources to prevent, detect, treat, understand and intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Eliminates Funding for Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
The CSBG provides funding to communities to help alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty. The grant provides wrap around service for older adults to maintain self-sufficiency.
Inadequate Prescription Drug Provisions
The Administration included prescription drug provisions in the budget document, but they do not address the high cost of brand-name drugs and would not allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The provisions that were included merely skirt around the edges and in many cases provide nominal price relief to some people but would have negative implications for others.