NEW GAO REPORT DETAILS DEMAND ON SENIOR SERVICES


WASHINGTON - Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) reacted to a study released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewing the status of Older Americans Act (OAA) programs across the country. Kohl requested the report in preparation for the forthcoming OAA reauthorization due this year. OAA programs provide assistance to older adults that help them live independently in their communities, including home care, congregate and home delivered meals, senior transportation, family caregiver support, and other services.  These programs currently serve about 10 million Americans nationwide.

"With the OAA up for reauthorization this year, I asked GAO for a thorough review of these programs and an honest assessment of the demands placed on these services every day," Kohl said. "For many seniors across the country, the need for these OAA programs has increased in this tough economy. I will work with my colleagues this congress to strengthen these vital programs in the coming year."

According to the GAO report:

- Since the economic downturn began in late 2007, GAO estimates that local agencies have received increased requests for home-delivered meals (79 percent increase), support services (73 percent) and caregiver services (67 percent).

- An estimated 22 percent of agencies reported being "generally or very unable" to serve all clients who requested home-delivered meals and an estimated 26 percent of agencies that provide transportation services were "generally or very unable" to meet all transportation requests.

- GAO recommends that HHS convene work groups to study the effectiveness of cost-sharing and to develop definitions and measurement procedures for need and unmet need.

The full GAO report can be viewed at http://www.gao.gov/Products/GAO-11-237.