How Trump Budget Would Hurt Older Americans

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How Trump Budget Would Hurt Older Americans

The Trump budget would make it much harder for the elderly in the U.S. to get by, while showering large tax cuts on the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations. (Photo: Pixabay/CC0)

President Trump’s 2018 budget wouldn’t just hurt people with disabilities, as we’ve explained, but older Americans as well. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, which serve tens of millions of seniors. But the President has broken his promise to protect those programs and has proposed cutting or eliminating other critical supports for older Americans. Many seniors already struggle to afford the basics; the Trump budget would make it much harder for them to get by, while showering large tax cuts on the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations.

Here are the details:

  • Proposed Medicaid cuts threaten health care for older Americans — especially their ability to age in their homes and communities rather than institutions. Medicaid is the nation’s main payer for long-term care, including both nursing home care and home- and community-based services. The budget would cut Medicaid by up to $1.3 trillion over the next decade. That’s even more than the House-passed health care bill, which would raise the number of uninsured by 23 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Facing steep cuts in federal funding, states would likely curtail essential services that enable seniors to remain in their homes, forcing many into institutional care.
  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause premiums for older Americans to skyrocket. The House-passed health care bill, which the budget adopts, would hit older Americans who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare particularly hard. Premiums would skyrocket for many — for example, a low-income 64-year-old who buys insurance in the exchanges would face a 700 to 800 percent premium increase. Many wouldn’t be able to afford those steep premiums. The House bill would more than double uninsured rates among low-income 50- to 64-year-olds, CBO estimates.
  • Deep SNAP (food stamp) cuts would cause more elderly people to struggle to put food on the table. SNAP households with an elderly member receive $128 in benefits each month, on average, helping them to pay for groceries. The budget would cut more than $193 billion — over 25 percent — from SNAP over the next decade. It would also end SNAP’s minimum monthly benefit of $16, cutting benefits for 1 million households with seniors.
  • Cuts in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) would hit many older Americans. Workers pay into Social Security to protect themselves and their families if they retire, become disabled, or die leaving family members to support. Most SSDI beneficiaries — nearly 6 million — are age 55 or older and can’t keep working until their full retirement age due to serious illness or injury. Though the President repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security, his budget cuts SSDI by tens of billions of dollars.
  • Cuts in rental and heating assistance would hurt thousands of seniors. The budget’s deep cuts in rental assistance for low-income families would mean that more than 250,000 fewer households, roughly 60,000 of which include seniors, would receive housing vouchers. The budget would also eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income people pay their heating and cooling bills. Some 40 percent of LIHEAP-eligible households include at least one person aged 60 or older.
  • The budget eliminates several programs providing social and community services to older people. One is the Social Services Block Grant, which helps states meet the specialized needs of their most vulnerable populations, such as helping seniors stay in their homes and preventing elder abuse. Another is the Community Service Employment Program, which connects 70,000 low-income, unemployed people aged 55 or older with part-time work each year. Yet another is Medicare’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which helps older adults with their Medicare benefits and doctor bills.

Kathleen Romig

Kathleen Romig is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  She works on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and other budget issues.

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