By Jason Coates, Public Policy Associate
In January, the federal government is scheduled to cut billions of dollars from the budget. The Budget Control Act of 2011 will reduce most non-military spending by 8.2%. Although controlling the growth of the federal budget is necessary, across the board cuts will harm those in greatest need. That is why NHCOA calls on Congress and President Obama to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that preserves good investments and does not harm the most vulnerable.
NHCOA’s signature diabetes prevention and management program, Salud y Bienestar, is an example of a good investment by the federal government. Supported by the Walmart Foundation, Salud y Bienestar has helped thousands of Hispanic older adults prevent and manage diabetes through a holistic approach that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and age sensitive. The results of this program have been impressive, as it has proven to change participants’ diet and health behaviors in a way that reduces the risk of the disease. In promoting prevention, it also helps to ensure that there are less health care dollars needed for the treatment of diabetes.
Spending designed to promote efficiency in government programs is valuable, as well. NHCOA operates the National Hispanic Senior Medicare Patrol (NHSMP), a program sponsored by the Administration on Aging, which is dedicated to reducing the incidence of Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community. Through the NHSMP, NHCOA has reached thousands of Hispanic older adults and caregivers, informing them on how to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud. NHSMP, which is part of a network of Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) programs across the country, helps save federal dollars while helping preserve and protect the Medicare system.
NHSMP and Salud y Bienestar not only allow the federal government to save money and invest in the future of the country, but also promote innovation. Salud y Bienestar, which started as a government-funded program, is now supported by the Walmart Foundation. The program shows that the federal government can be a leader in innovating and reducing health care costs. However, large cuts to the federal budget, like the ones that could take affect in January, could prevent crucial programs like NHSMP and Salud y Bienestar from receiving proper funding to impact communities that need it the most.