Aging Services Funding Moving in Congress
On July 31, 2018 by Jodi Boyne
To facilitate timely passage of 2019 spending bills and avoid a government shutdown when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, the U.S. House and Senate are combining multiple individual spending bills into larger legislative packages.
Aging services programs involved in this process include senior housing and home- and community-based services under the Older Americans Act and other human services programs. Medicare and Medicaid are not subject to the annual appropriations process.
Both the House and Senate HUD appropriations bills would fund Section 202 housing at a total of $679 million, the amount provided for fiscal 2018. This funding would be sufficient to renew all existing Section 202 contracts.
In addition, the Senate bill provides $51 million for new Section 202 homes. The Senate measure also has $10 million for a new home modification program to “make grants to experienced nonprofit organizations, sates, local governments, or public housing agencies for safety and functional home modification repairs to meet the needs of low income elderly persons to enable them to remain in their primary residence.” At least $5 million of this new program's funds must be available to meet these needs in communities with “substantial rural populations.”
The combined spending legislation incorporating the HUD appropriations is now under consideration by the full Senate.
The Senate spending measure provides some increases in funding for home- and community-based services under the Older Americans Act. Aging and disability services programs under the Administration on Community Living would receive a total increase of $6 million over this year’s funding. Low-income home energy assistance would gain $50 million. Social Services Block Grants, which many states use to provide home- and community-based services, would be level funded at $1.7 billion.
The full Senate may take up legislation during the week of July 30.
Once the Senate passes its appropriations packages, an agreement still must be reached with the House on final spending levels and other provisions. This could be complicated because the House and Senate began with different top-line totals of 2019 spending for all programs subject to appropriations.