From the Executive Director
In the world of politics the focus these days is on the upcoming elections. However, after November 6 attention will shift to the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration of all discretionary federal funding. Older Americans Act funding, the primary funding source for area agencies on aging, will be impacted by the sequestration.
In 2011, Congress and President Obama agreed to the Budget Control Act to address the growing federal budget deficit. Under terms of the agreement, Republicans and Democrats must identify $1.2 trillion in budget savings and/or revenue increases over the next ten years to reduce the federal deficit. Both parties must come to an agreement by the end of this calendar year.
If no agreement is reached, then all discretionary federal funding will be sequestered. That means an 8.4% across-the-board cut in defense and non-defense discretionary spending. Older Americans Act funding will be among the many, many programs to be reduced. Between $4-5 million in annual Older Americans Act funding will be lost to Michigan. The AAAWM region would lose about $350,000 which currently provides congregate meals, home delivered meals, and in-home services. In Michigan, the cuts will deny 6,000 seniors nutritional meals, including 2,500 frail homebound seniors getting meals-on-wheels.
An 8.4% funding cut will make it harder for low income older adults to stay in their own home and out of a more expensive nursing home. In the long run, taxpayers will have to pay more as an increasing number of individuals qualify for Medicaid.
This all comes at a time when senior millage funding across Michigan is declining due to decreasing property values. And the number of older adults in need of in-home assistance is growing. The number of older adults in Michigan grew by more than 20% over the past ten years. That trend will accelerate over the next ten years. Consequently, demand for services and waiting lists will continue to increase.
Please contact U. S. Senator Levin, Senator Stabenow, and your U.S Congressman by phone, fax, or email urging them to find common ground and to reach a budget deficit agreement before the end of the year. Tell them how the sequester will devastate Older Americans Act programs and the negative impact on the health and independence of older Michiganians.