During May, the Oregon Legislature held their Legislative Committee Days. These meetings are designed to allow interim committees time to meet and vet issues, host conversations and learn more information in advance of the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session.
Joint Interim Committee on Human Services - The Department of Human Services presented their first update on 'budget note' work that has been done in the interim. The Department was tasked with work on increasing budget sustainability within the Medicaid programs. You can read their presentation HERE and read the DHS report and Legislative Fiscal analysis HERE.
The Department also sought approval for Federal grant applications. You can read all materials from the Committee hearing HERE.
Senate Human Services: The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs discussed their new initiatives around aging veterans. Mary Jaeger, Aging Veterans Services Director, shared data on aging veterans in Oregon, service gaps and future plans to meet the needs. You can read her testimony HERE. You can watch this hearing via the Oregon Legislative website at this link: http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=21821
House & Senate Revenue: The Revenue Committees heard the first report from the Legislative Revenue office on potential impacts of IP 28, the ballot measure initiative currently headed to the November ballot. Their analysis provided insight into impacts to business, potential revenue expected to be gained if this measure were to pass and considerations for the Legislative body. You can read the LRO report HERE.
House Human Services and Housing: This Committee heard about recent investments in housing and how this relates to Oregon's work in renewing the 1115 Medicaid waiver, the prevailing waiver over the current health system transformation and the CCO system. The Oregon Health Authority report is HERE.
The Oregon Legislative website is always an excellent resource for information the legislative process. Please visit their website at: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov.
DHS Town Hall Meetings - THIS WEEK!
Oregon's Department of Human Services will host town hall meetings throughout the state this week and next to discuss programs, services and priorities for the 2017-19 legislative session and biennial budget. Join the Department to share your perspective on the importance of adequate and stable funding for programs serving Oregon's seniors and people with disabilities. It is critical that the Department hears from those who are impacted by these programs!
For more information, please see the release from DHS below:
You are invited to provide input and feedback to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) on our programs, services and priorities for our 2017 budget and legislative session. We've been doing these meetings for several years, and they are a great way to hear directly from the people and communities DHS serves.
The Town Hall will cover programs and services in the following areas:
* Child Welfare
* Aging and People with Disabilities
* Intellectual/Developmental Disability Services
* Self Sufficiency Programs
* Vocational Rehabilitation
* DHS Director's Office and other Central Services
Your participation is extremely valuable to us as we make plans to move forward, so make plans to attend a meeting in your local area!
Monday, June 20
PORTLAND: Creston Elementary School, Auditorium, 4701 SE Bush Street, right off Powell Blvd
1:00 pm -- 3:00 pm
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line PORTLAND
Tuesday, June 21
SALEM: Chemeketa Community College, Auditorium - Building 6, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE
1:00 pm -- 3:00 pm
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line SALEM
Wednesday, June 22
EUGENE: Lane Community College, Center for Meeting & Learning #104, 4000 E 30th Avenue
1:00 pm -- 3:00 pm)
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line EUGENE
Thursday, June 23
MEDFORD: North Medford High School, Auditorium, 1900 N Keene Way Drive
(10:00 am -- 12:00 noon)
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line MEDFORD
Monday, June 27
BEND: The Riverhouse Convention Center, Cascade AJ Room, 3075 N. Business 97
10:00 am -- 12:00 noon
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line BEND
Tuesday, June 28
PENDLETON: Vert Auditorium, 480 SW Dorion Avenue
1:00 pm -- 3:00 pm
Please let us know if you plan to attend: Email DHS Director's Office -- Use subject line PENDLETON
Federal Update ~ Senate Proposals on Budget Released
Courtesy: n4a (http://www.n4a.org), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Senate Releases FY 2017 Labor-HHS Spending Plan Details
Concerning Cuts Proposed for OAA Title VI, SHIPs, SCSEP
Last week, the Senate passed its FY 2017 spending plan for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) out of the Appropriations subcommittee of jurisdiction and full committee. The bill sets discretionary funding levels for the bulk of the federal workforce, education and health and social services programs, which includes Older Americans Act and other critical aging programs.
We have now learned the details of the plan that passed by a bipartisan vote out of the full Committee, and while we appreciate that no drastic cuts were made to most core OAA programs, we have some serious concerns with funding levels for other critical OAA and ACL programs. An updated n4a Appropriations Chart is available that details the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations recommendations.
Why Did the Senate Propose Cuts for Aging Programs?
Following the Bipartisan Budget Agreement last fall that boosted overall budget caps for FY 2016 and FY 2017 above those outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act, the top-line funding level for FY 2017 was essentially equal to FY 2016. Therefore, we anticipated that we would not see marked increases in funding levels for specific OAA and other aging programs this year.
Additionally, when the Senate determined specific funding levels for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees, known as “302 (b)” allocations, the level for Labor-HHS programs was slightly lower than it was in FY 2016. Therefore, not only were we facing overall flat funding, but the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over OAA programs was facing a spending limit that was tighter than last year’s. Lastly, Labor-HHS Subcommittee members prioritized, for a second year in a row, a significant $2 billion increase for health research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which meant that many non-NIH programs were cut to accommodate this substantial boost.
OAA Funding in Senate FY 2017 Labor-HHS Spending Plan
On the heels of celebrating OAA reauthorization this spring, we are deeply dismayed about several funding levels included in the Senate Labor-HHS plan, as the proposed cuts continue to chip away at already underfunded OAA programs that cannot keep pace with a growing need for services. Again, most core OAA programs—including Title III B Supportive Services ($347 million), Title III C Congregate and Home-Delivered Meals ($448 and $226 million, respectively), III E National Family Caregiver Support Program ($150.5 million) and Title VII Ombudsman ($20 million)—were all level-funded at FY 2016 amounts, and we are relieved to see that there were no cuts to any of these essential programs and services.
However, Senate appropriators proposed to roll back last year’s boost of $5 million for the Title VI Native American aging program nutrition services by including an unconscionable 16 percent cut for an already massively underfunded program. This is especially concerning because last year Congress approved significant percentage increases for both Title VI Part A nutrition services and Part C caregiver services. We must ensure that this year Congress ultimately rejects the Senate’s proposed Title VI cuts in any appropriations bills moving forward.
The Senate Labor-HHS bill also proposes completely eliminating funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs),which would have devastating consequences for millions of Medicare beneficiaries and their families. Last year, the Senate bill suggested cutting SHIP funding by nearly 42 percent, which Congress ultimately rejected after effective advocacy by AAAs and SHIP programs across the country. However, we must increase our efforts this year to ensure that SHIP funding is preserved in a final spending package.
Unfortunately, the Senate Labor-HHS funding bill continues to chip away at other programs that cannot continue to absorb reduced—or even level—federal funding, especially when the population of older adults is growing faster than ever. Senate appropriators also proposed a $34 million (nearly 8 percent) cut for the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP), and level funding for other ACL-administered programs, including Chronic Disease Self-Management, Falls Prevention and Lifespan Respite.
Other HHS programs were also spared cuts and level-funded, including Senior Corps at $202 million, Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) at $1.7 billion and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) at $715 million. Senators also proposed level-funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at $3.39 billion.
One highlight of the Committee-approved bill was a $2 million increase for Elder Justice Programs, which continues the upward funding trend for critical efforts to prevent and respond to elder abuse.
We have yet to see a Labor-HHS bill in the House, but are talking with House Appropriators and encouraging them to reject Senate-proposed cuts to OAA and other aging programs. The longer-term fate of any FY 2017 funding bills remains murky, as both a compressed Congressional calendar and election-year politics are certain to complicate passage. It is almost certain that lawmakers will not pass a full-year funding bill prior to the September 30 deadline and start of the next fiscal year, so we fully expect that at the end of the summer Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution (CR), which continues funding at current levels, to keep the government operational until after the elections.
However, it is critical that we keep up the drumbeat about the need for funding increases for OAA and other aging programs. Stay tuned for updates about the FY 2017 appropriations process as they are available and continue to contact your Members of Congress with these important messages!
Please do not hesitate to contact O4AD with any questions or for information we can provide! 503.463.8692. firstname.lastname@example.org
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