Trump budget chops geriatric training

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While long-term care providers remain concerned about President Donald Trump's proposed budget, other smaller programs are also a target.

AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine said it was concerned about many parts of the budget, including the proposed elimination of $403 million for important primary care training programs including the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program under Titles VII and VIII under the Health Resources Services Administration.

“This important program enhances and extends much-needed geriatrics education in a variety of healthcare settings,” it said. In a follow-up statement, AMDA Executive Director Christopher Laxton said GWEPs "help to develop a competent health care workforce at a time when it is most needed – and that need will only increase." 

"GWEPs work to maximize patient and family engagement while improving health outcomes for older adults, providing a critical service to post-acute and long-term care providers across the country. GWEP funding should be increased, not cut," he told McKnight's.

LeadingAge agreed, saying it strongly objected to elimination of GWEP.

“GWEP is the only federal program dedicated to geriatric workforce training,” the organization stated.  “We face a perfect storm of a rapidly aging population and a growing shortage of healthcare professionals and direct-care workers educated to meet the special needs of people as they age. This is a program that should be expanded, not eliminated.”

Eliminating GWEP-type programs "reduces the exposure that students have to geriatrics which in turn detracts from the ability to recruit these individuals into long term care," says Urvi Patel, Director of Quality Improvement at the American Health Care Association.

The budget also would completely eliminate funding of roughly $52 million for the State Health Insurance and Assistance Programs, the Center for Medicare Advocacy noted. This program offers Medicare beneficiaries support in enrolling in Medicare and helps make sure they know what benefits for which they are eligible, which may include long-term care services. It also would trim more than $74 billion from Social Security, such as $64 billion in cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance. That could “end the ability of some individuals under age 65 who have significant disabilities to qualify for Medicare coverage,” a statement from the center noted.

“Despite misleading statements to the contrary, this budget greatly impacts Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries,” warned Judith Stein, Center for Medicare Advocacy Executive Director. “Make no mistake, the budget would reduce access to Medicare, healthcare, and cause real pain for older people, people with disabilities, and families throughout the country.”

The budget also proposes eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an Obama-era provision of the Affordable Care Act that was never implemented.