In response to a budget blueprint in the U.S. House of Representatives proposing more than $530 billion in cuts to Medicare and more than $1.5 trillion in cuts to federal health programs overall--and a time when more Americans than ever before are poised to contribute to our communities thanks to federal services and supports--the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) today redoubled its strong opposition to any plan for balancing governmental spending at the expense of older Americans.
"We are troubled by this budget proposal to decrease support for older adults even as more and more people across our communities approach age 65," noted AGS Chief Executive Officer Nancy Lundebjerg, MPA. "Federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid have been essential to the forward momentum that has helped us live longer. We continue to offer our support and expertise to the many bipartisan legislators and experts working across the aisle on meaningful proposals that would help--not harm--us all as we age."
Titled "A Brighter American Future," the House budget blueprint proposes cutting more than $530 billion from Medicare over the next nine years by implementing several risky changes, including allowing older adults to enroll in private insurance plans which could put benefits and coverage at risk. The blueprint also takes aim at core components of Social Security--with calls for $4 billion in cuts over the next decade--and Medicaid--the nation's insurance platform for those living at or below the federal poverty line, a common reality for many older adults and caregivers.
As AGS experts continue to review shifting budget plans and priorities, they remain steadfast in their call for state and federal policies equipped to:
- Expand older adults' healthcare options to include in-home and other care that enable us to live independently as long as possible; help older adults and caregivers better understand healthcare needs and make the most of Medicare and other benefits; and provide caregivers with adequate resources and support.
- Ensure that value-based purchasing and other quality initiatives take into account the unique healthcare needs of all older people.
- Strengthen primary and preventive care and care coordination.
- Address the acute and growing nationwide shortage of geriatricians (physicians with advanced training in the care of older people) and all geriatrics healthcare professionals; and ensure that other healthcare providers have training that prepares them to meet the unique healthcare needs of older people.
- Step-up research concerning healthy aging, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of age-related health problems, and the cost-effectiveness of various approaches to care; and ensure that older adults are adequately represented in research trials.
"Supporting these proven solutions," Lundebjerg observed, "is our best chance for ensuring health, safety, and independence for us all as we age."
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 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.