The FY 2018 omnibus spending bill (H.R. 1625), signed Friday by President Trump, included significant increases for vital Older Americans Act programs, as well as continued funding to support the administrative aspects of the Social Security Administration and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The bill included:
- Social Security: A proposed budget increase of $388 million for the Social Security administrative fund. $280 million is set aside specifically for modernizing the agency’s IT infrastructure, and $100 million for reducing the backlog of appeal hearings.
- Housing: $678 million for the Section 202 program that provides assistance to older adults, including $105 million for new Section 202 construction and project-based rental assistance. It expands rental assistance for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly communities, provides funding for new construction for housing for people with disabilities, and increases funding for Housing Choice Vouchers, public housing, and homeless assistance, among other programs.
- Health: $49 million in funding for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) for FY18, which is a $2 million increase from FY17, but still $3 million less than FY 2016.
- Energy Assistance: $250 million increase for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), for a total of $3.6 billion.
- Nutrition: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding at $74 billion, a $4.5 billion cut (nearly 6%) from FY 2017. The bill also allows for work requirements.
- Community Services: Level funding for the Community Services Block Grant at $715 million, and the Social Services Block Grant at $1.7 billion. The Community Development Block Grant received a $300 million (10 percent) boost to $3.3 billion.
- Legal Services and Elder Justice: $410 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a $25 million overall increase from FY 2017 levels. The Older Americans Act, Title IIIB Supportive Services received a 10% increase, for a funding level of $385 million. Adult Protective Services (APS) and the Elder Justice Initiative received increased funding of $12 million, a $2 million increase.
The package that passed did not include other health care bills that we were watching, such as the EMPOWER Care Act (S.2227, H.R. 5306), which would extend the Medicaid Money Follows the Person Program, and the BENES Act (S.1909, H.R.2575), which would simplify and improve the Medicare Part B enrollment process.