Aging services providers’ ability to serve low-income older adults will be hindered if the federal government proceeds with proposed changes to how it measures poverty, according to advocacy organizations representing the industry.

The proposed changes also would reduce the number of older adults eligible for publicly funded aging services, LeadingAge and the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said in letters responding to the White House Office for Management and Budget’s May 7 request for comments. The deadline for comments was last Friday.

In its post in the Federal Register, OMB said it was examining differences among various federal consumer price indexes and how those differences might influence the estimation of the Official Poverty Measure and other income measures calculated by the Census Bureau. “Based on the comments received and internal discussions with experts, OMB will consider the need to update the specific inflation measure used to adjust the OPM,” the office said.

Poverty and the Official Poverty Measure “is an issue of particular importance to older adults and the providers that serve them, particularly considering that the 65+ population is projected to increase substantially over the next decade as Boomer’s [sic] continue to turn 65 and older,” LeadingAge Director of Home and Community-Based Services Brendan Flinn wrote in a June 21 letter. “Any changes to how the OPM is calculated must consider the impact on the older adult population,” he added.

AHCA / NCAL commented as one of 14 organizations sending a June 21 letter via the Partnership for Medicaid.

“Changing the annual inflation adjustment for the OPM will not provide a more accurate picture of poverty and is certain to result in further inaccuracies,” the group wrote.

Low-income seniors and people with disabilities would lose eligibility for a Medicaid program that helps them afford their Medicare deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing, according to the letter. “In addition, more than 150,000 seniors and people with disabilities would lose eligibility for coverage of their Medicare Part B premiums,” the Partnership said.

The group urged OMB not to proceed with its proposed alternatives for measuring poverty. “However, if OMB does decide to take further action, we request that you first undertake in-depth research and analysis to determine the impacts of the policy change and that you undertake a formal public comment process,” the letter said.