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Seniorgram: Sending a Message on Senior Issues

Budget updates from Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotExecutive Director Roseann MartocciaThe Governor’s Budget, known as House 2 (H.2), was released in late January. It is very encouraging that the administration has proposed $17.4 million over projected spending for FY18. These increases would bring $2.9 million to councils on Aging, increasing the formula grant from $9.00 to $12.00 per senior, add $12.1 million more for caseload growth in the home care programs and add $2.7 million to elder protective services.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that up to five million elders suffer from some form of elder abuse each year, or about one in eight Americans age 65 and older. In Massachusetts:

  • Elder protective services was contacted by over 30,000 individuals who were seeking help, and reports have increased an average of 11% in each of the last three years.
  • We anticipate the FY19 cost will be approximately a 9% increase above the governor’s budget.

The Administration has recommended an increase of $2.7 million for elder protective services funding over the FY18 appropriation; however, increasing caseloads and program improvements will still leave this program with a shortfall in FY19. Advocates are requesting an additional $2,600,000 over the Governor’s H.2 recommendation to meet protective services needs next year.

Meanwhile, the federal budget remains in Continuing Resolution, which will bring us to March 23. The Senate and House reached a sweeping bipartisan agreement that would, among other things, increase overall non-defense discretionary budget caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019. This gives Congressional appropriators six more weeks to finalize all 12 annual spending bills for the rest of FY 2018 and then roll those together into one omnibus bill. The passage of the two-year budget deal lifts the stringent budget caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act – giving appropriators more money to divvy up among programs. This means that it is more important than ever that advocates connect with their lawmakers to promote funding priorities for Older Americans Act and other federal aging programs.

In this very challenging budget year, advocates secured a major win when House lawmakers passed a $14.2 million increase for Older Americans Act Title III B Supportive Services, but continued advocacy is needed to ensure that increase is reflected in a final bill.

In addition, advocacy is needed to assure, at a minimum, that funding for the SHINE (known as SHIP in other states) program is funded at the Senate proposed levels, which would spare the SHINE program from any reduction in funding from the current funding level.

Continued advocacy to state and federal lawmakers is needed. We need to make our voices heard so that people who wish to remain at home, as well as their caregivers, receive needed resources.