On March 4, The Obama Administration released its budget request for FY 2015. The $3.9 trillion plan adheres to the spending levels set by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, but shows the President’s spending priorities under those levels. Fortunately, the President’s budget request maintains investments in many important programs that support the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities, cancels the harmful across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration), preserves the structure of Medicaid, and recognizes the need for a balanced approach to deficit reduction while making important investments in early childhood, employment for people with disabilities, and health care. However, the budget does include several cuts and structural changes to programs that support vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities. Below is a summary of changes to several key disability-related programs in the President’s Budget Request:
Employment: The state vocational grant program would receive $3.35 billion, an increase of 8.8%. The president’s budget request, however, would consolidate funding for supported employment states grants.
Health: The Administration proposes to extend the increased Medicaid payments for primary care services delivered by certain physicians for an additional year. The Administration is also proposing a series of cuts to the Medicaid program including limiting reimbursement for durable medical equipment, payments to hospitals that serve a large number of low income individuals, and making changes to the drug rebate program.
Social Security: The President has requested $12.272 billion for the Social Security Administration’s administrative expenses, a 1.7% increase over FY 2014. Unfortunately, the President also proposed a Social Security cut for workers with disabilities who concurrently receive Unemployment Insurance.
Developmental Disabilities Act Programs: The President proposes level funding for Developmental Disabilities Network programs, including $71 million for the DD state grant program, $39 million for the protection and advocacy (P&A) network, $37 million for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and $9 million for the projects of national significance (PNS).
Special Education: The Department of Education would receive a slight increase for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs. Part C early intervention would receive $441.8 million, an increase of 0.75%, and Part B state grants would receive $11.572 billion, an increase of 0.87%, while other IDEA programs remain level funded.
Housing: The President’s budget requests a $34 million increase for the HUD Section 811 program (boosting funding to $162 million), with $25 million in funding available in FY 2015 for development of new integrated permanent supportive housing units. This request will allow additional states to use the innovative 811 Project-based Rental Assistance (PRA) model to promote the community integration goals of Medicaid Money Follows the Person, Olmstead and ending chronic homelessness experienced by people with disabilities.
While the President is required by law to release a budget each year, this particular budget is expected to have little legislative impact. The House and Senate already agreed to top-line spending levels in last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act and Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has announced that she will let that agreement stand instead of creating a new Senate budget resolution this year.
We’ll have more details next week after President Obama releases additional information about his 2015 spending plan. Read more about the President’s Budget request at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/.