New York (Feb. 16, 2018)—The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) expressed deep disappointment with proposed cuts that could curtail training for the health professionals we all will need as we age, as well as impede a range of services for older adults—all outlined by President Trump in his budget plan for 2019.
Among several concerns, the AGS noted that the budget would eliminate $451 million from training programs that educate family caregivers, as well as our doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, and many other health professionals essential to our care as we grow older. While Congress has ultimate say on spending, the Trump proposal is already premised on a flawed assumption that “[t]here is little evidence that these programs significantly improve the Nation’s health workforce.”
The AGS remains especially concerned about the potential impact of cuts to the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) under Titles VII and VIII. This is the only federal program aimed at improving the quality, safety, and affordability of our care by increasing the number of professionals with the skills needed to preserve and promote health, safety, and independence for all older Americans.
In addition to large cuts for essential home and community-based services benefitting all older Americans, the President’s budget also takes aim at Medicare and Medicaid—our largest insurers and the main source of health support for older people and other individuals at risk for poor health. The Trump Administration again has called on Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) expansion of the Medicaid program, and has proposed capping Medicaid payments to states, which would impact access to long-term care services and supports for all older adults. In total, the budget proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by nearly $250 billion over the next 10 years, a critical time when more Americans than ever before are poised to contribute to our communities thanks to increased longevity.
While AGS leaders recognize that the Trump Administration has maintained certain supports for the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in its budget proposal, AGS Chief Executive Officer Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA, noted that “any budget also must ensure that we have adequately prepared the healthcare workforce to care for us all as we age, and that we are able to provide all older Americans with the services and supports that can keep us healthy, safe, and independent for as long as possible.”
“We remain committed to working with Congress and the Trump Administration on a budget that builds an even stronger healthcare workforce and supports older Americans, veterans, and their families,” Lundebjerg added.
About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has—for more than 75 years—worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.