IAAAA Advocates for Older Americans Act and Medicaid HCBS on Capitol Hill

Last week, executives from Lifestream Services, CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions and IAAAA met with Indiana Senate and House of Representatives staff on Capitol Hill to advocate for sequester relief for Older Americans Act services and for protection of Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waivers, two funding sources that help Hoosiers age safely and independently in their own homes and communities.

It is a vital time for advocacy for older adults and people with disabilities of any age. Although pulled from consideration, the American Health Care Act would have created significant challenges for state Medicaid programs, including home and community-based services, and caused premiums for older adults on federal health insurance marketplace plans to sky-rocket.

The week prior to our visit, the White House had released the so-called “skinny budget” that proposed crippling reductions for non-defense discretionary funding in general and elimination of key programs that support seniors such as the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Senior Corps programs including Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions and Retried Volunteer Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Community Services Block Grant and Community Development Block Grant.

Congressional staffers were quick to assure us that only Congress can appropriate funds, and that they did not see the White House budget moving forward. At the same time, it is vital that we continue to educate our Congressional delegation and their staff on the important – and life saving – roles these programs can play. Indiana AAAs know well, for example, how access to LIHEAP helps keep seniors cool on dangerously hot days.

Lifestream Services shared the story of a man whose wife had early-onset dementia. The man was deteriorating so much from the stress of caregiving that he was considering placing his wife in a nursing facility. LifeStream Services provided caregiver respite support, and the couple is now able to remain together in their own home. CICOA shared the story of client who had just celebrated her 107th birthday and remains in the community with in-home services. She no longer drives herself, but she and another parishioner visit home bound seniors with their church’s shut-in ministry.

It is stories like these that vividly paint the picture of how well federal support serves Hoosiers. Please share your own stories by contacting both Indiana Senators and your Representative. For more information on top federal legislative priorities, read n4a’s newly released 2017 Policy Priorities.