FY16 Omnibus Budget
Congress released the text of the FY2016 omnibus appropriations bill, which would fund the government through September 2016. FY2016 began on October 1st of this year, but the government has been operating under a series of shortterm
spending authorizations pending this comprehensive appropriations package. In October, leadership from both parties reached a deal that provided for increased topline funding levels when compared to prior years, but did not include specific funding amounts for discrete programs. That increased overall spending led to more favorable allocations for aging and disability programs than had been proposed in prior drafts of the legislation. Throughout the summer, appropriators indicated that legislative priorities were
focused on increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This led to concerns about the resulting impact on other programs, which included proposals that would have drastically reduced allocations for several important programs such as the SHIP Medicare counseling program. As noted, the fall budget deal increased top-line spending levels and led to flat and slightly-increased funding for many programs. For example, the SHIP program was originally slated for a cut of over 40% but was levelfunded in this bill. As a reminder, many of the federal government’s largest expenses are mandatory
expenditures, such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, and, as such, are not subject to the annual appropriations process. Therefore, the budget does not include any substantive funding or policy changes to these programs.
While the passage of this bill is not certain, and the final vote is likely to be close, leadership in both parties have indicated that they are willing to accept many of the compromises that ended up in this final package. Based on current timing, it appears that this bill will most likely be brought to the floor for a vote on Friday. A separate piece of legislation that deals with extending tax breaks and other associated policies is being packaged with appropriations; however, we do not provide any analysis or discussion of the so-called “extenders bill” in this memo.
Due to the limits on discretionary spending, many of the programs that serve seniors have been reduced over the past several years. The President’s budget in February proposed to remove those limits and to restore funding for discretionary programs back to pre-sequestration levels. While Congress did not accept most of the funding increases included in the budget recommendation, the final appropriations bill does have important increases to many crucial programs. Additionally, Congress enacted a significant increase to NIH, which received an additional $2 billion of funding in this bill. Some of that funding will be used to increase research that specifically benefits seniors and people with disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s prevention. Please see the attached chart for summaries of proposed funding levels of many programs important to seniors and people with disabilities. In addition to the tables, we highlight several areas where the FY2016 budget provides additional funding for programs that serve seniors and people with disabilities. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) receives several increases in the omnibus bill. Notably, Congress funded an increase of $20 million for the core nutrition formula grants compared to FY15 enacted levels. This is less than the $40 million increase requested by the Administration, but still provides important additional funding for these crucial services. Title III nutrition services are funded at approximately $644.6 million, as well as flat-funding the Nutrition Services Incentive Program. Overall, the budget includes approximately $834.7 million for nutrition services. This funding package includes the following amounts:
- Congregate meals would receive a $10 million increase to $448.3 million;
- Home-delivered meals would also receive $10 million in additional funding for a total of $226.3 million; and
- Nutrition Services Incentives would receive $160 million.
The omnibus bill does not include appropriations for a new nutrition demonstration grant program ACL proposed that would invest in evidence-based models to modernize the home-delivered and congregate nutrition programs. ACL had requested $20 million for this initiative. The appropriations bill also did not fund a proposed increase to Aging and Disability Resource Center allocations. ADRCs will receive $6 million in this appropriations bill, which is the same as FY2015 but significantly below the $20 million requested by the administration. The bill also includes several increases to family caregiving support. The Family Caregiver Support Services program received a $5 million increase, to a total of $150.58 million. This is the level proposed in the President’s budget. Native American Caregiver Support Services also received an increase, from $6 million to $7.5 million. However, a new program ACL proposed in the budget - $15 million for competitive grants to fund family caregiver initiatives - was not funded in the omnibus bill. Lastly, the budget includes increased funds for Elder Abuse Prevention activities. Congress included $8 million to fund these initiatives, which is an increase from $4 million allocated in FY2015. Of note, the FY2015 funds were the first dedicated resources provided by the federal government to prevent elder abuse. In the President’s budget, ACL proposed a $21 million increase.
Click here to view the FY16 Budget Chart.