Physical Activity Programs and the Federal Budget-The Effect on Medicaid, Social Security, and IDEIA

Article excerpt

The budget for FY 2006 consists of four key funding elements--costs of defense for the war in Iraq, homeland security, foreign aid, and discretionary programs at home. With the current state of affairs across the world, the war and homeland security take priority over many of the discretionary programs to which we have become accustomed. This means hundreds of programs affecting our daily lives may be cut or eliminated in an effort to fund the war and protect the country from our enemies. The process for allocating federal resources (discretionary funds) for programs of physical activity for persons with disabilities involves legislation, regulations, a budget resolution, and appropriations of available funds. The budget resolution determines the amount of fiscal resources given to each function of government (i.e., Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Medicaid, defense, etc.). Programs of physical activity for individuals with disabilities are located primarily in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Education (DOE), and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"The budget also proposes tax cuts which would reduce Federal revenues by $76 billion over five years. Domestic discretionary programs would suffer major losses ($5 million) with virtually all Federal departments providing human services receiving large cuts. Key examples include: Departments of Education (-1%), Labor (-4%), HUD (-11.5%), Health and Human Services (-2.5%)" (Disability Policy Seminar 2005, FY 2006 Budget and Appropriations Fact Sheet, The Arc, AAMR, AUCD, United Cerebral Palsy, NACDD, Washington, DC, February 28-March 2, 2005).

In addition, "The President's budget proposal for FY 2006 calls for $60 billion in cuts in the Medicaid Program over 5 years by cutting back on the allowable sources of the states' matching funds" Disability Policy Seminar 2005, Medicaid: Critical for Children and Adults with Disabilities and their Families Fact Sheet, The Arc, AAMR, AUCD, United Cerebral Palsy, NACDD, Washington, D.C., February 28-March 2, 2005. The President's budget serves as a template for the Congressional Budget Resolution and appropriations process. The President's budget has zeroed out the Disability Reaction Program, the Physical Fitness Youth Media Program, and the Physical Education for Progress Act (PEP), and indicated service cuts in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) (PL 108-446) personnel preparation grants.

While the President's budget has recommended funding cuts for these programs, over the past three years advocacy groups have been successful by approaching congressional appropriators to ensure these programs retain funding in consistent levels. This year, however, the outcome is unsure whether funding will be appropriated for these important physical activity and recreation programs. Funding caps up to five years on non-military discretionary programs (health and physical education) may be proposed in the budget resolution that would reinforce cuts for these programs in the President's Budget.

Medicaid Cuts May Jeopardize Physical Education Supports in IDEIA

Medicaid is a program providing medical services to low income families. Medicaid is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. For every dollar the states spend on Medicaid, the federal government matches. Estimates are that approximately 30% of special education students are eligible for Medicaid, and most of the funding for occupational therapy and physical therapy that supplement adapted physical education are funded by Medicaid.

Implications of Budget Cuts to Medicaid

There has been an explosive growth in the Medicaid Program through tax cuts at federal and state levels straining revenues to fund the program. Many services for the Medicaid program are optional and have been funded in the past. This year, however, states may be forced to take away optional services to meet the growing increase of Medicaid enrollees. …