AARP Letter to Lawmakers: Budget Proposal Undermines Vital Programs for Older Americans

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–April 7, 2011.  AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond yesterday wrote to members of the House Budget Committee to voice the Association’s concerns with the budget proposal released yesterday by Chairman Paul Ryan.  Among its provisions, the proposal would drive up costs for people in Medicare, take away needed coverage for long-term care from millions of older and disabled Americans and reduce critical help for seniors facing the threat of hunger.  Excerpts of LeaMond’s letter follow:

“AARP acknowledges that the nation’s long-term debt requires attention and we are committed to lending our support to balanced policies that address the nation’s long term fiscal challenges.  We can only do so, however, while also honoring the contributions of our members and the needs of millions of other Americans who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other important programs and services.  A number of proposals in this budget put at risk millions of individuals by prioritizing budget caps and cuts over the impact on people.”

On Medicare: “By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal will increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage—a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.”

On Social Security: “While we question the efficacy of compelling Congress and the President to address the long-term financing of Social Security on the basis of an arbitrary trigger on a 75 year horizon, we can agree that sooner is better than later to find solutions supported by the public that will ensure earned benefits for future retirees.”

On Long-Term Care: “Today’s proposal also fails to acknowledge that older adults and people with disabilities account for two-thirds of all Medicaid spending.  There are limited financing options currently available to pay for long-term services and supports and many of these individuals have already exhausted all of their own resources. …  At this point, Medicaid becomes a lifeline for these individuals, with the program providing either nursing home care or the specific services they need in order to stay in their homes and out of institutions.”

On Help for Hungry Seniors: “The current economic downturn has seen an enormous growth in both the need for and the receipt of SNAP benefits, and it is the essence of a safety net program that its utilization increases when economic security decreases.  Block granting the program, or imposing work requirements as today’s proposal assumes, will make SNAP less responsive in future downturns, and without clear work requirement exemptions for the elderly and disabled, would bar these individuals from receiving SNAP benefits.”