Despite budgetary constraints, Congress ended last year by boosting funding for several programs that serve caregivers and those with long-term care needs. The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), funded through the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill, included funding for fiscal year 2002 in the amount of $141.5 million — an increase of $16 million over prior year’s funding. This contains a $5 million earmarked for the Native Americans Caregiver Program.
The NFCSP was not the only program to receive a significant increase in funding. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) will experience an increase of over ten percent. For fiscal year 2002, NIA’s budget will grow by $107 million for total funding of $893.4 million. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Initiative budget, which seeks to expand the availability of diagnostic and support services for persons with Alzheimer’s Disease, their families, and their caregivers, will increase from $9 million to $12.5 million.
Unfortunately, some programs serving seniors and the disabled will be cut. The Social Services Block Grant, which funds a variety of state and local programs such as home-delivered meals and case management for the elderly, as well as respite care and independent living services for the disabled, will experience a $25 million cut in funding, for total fiscal year 2002 funding of $1.7 billion.
What’s new for the year? Congress went back to work January 23, 2002. While much of their focus will be on domestic security, we can expect some debate on the creation of a Medicare prescription drug benefit and ensuring the long-term solvency of Social Security. And the budget battles have begun. President Bush released the fiscal year 2003 budget on February 4, 2002. Bush recommended that the National Family Caregiver Support Program receive the same funding it did last fiscal year. Other programs funded under the Older Americans Act can also expect level funding or slight increases, with the exception of the training, research and discretionary projects component, which would be significantly cut. Both of these actions may include recommendations to over-haul these safety net programs.
For more detailed information on the Bush budget, visit the Administration on Aging website at www.aoa.gov/Oaa/oaaapp.html or the Office of Management and Budget, www.whitehouse.gov/omb/. To access more detailed information on fiscal year 2002 appropriations, go to thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp107: FLD010:@1(hr342).