Senators Collins, Casey Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Older Americans Act
The landmark law supports social and nutrition services for older adults and their caregivers and is critical to improving the lives of seniors
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Aging Committee, introduced the Modernization of the Older Americans Act Amendments. Their legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the Older Americans Act (OAA), the nation’s preeminent law focused on the wellbeing of seniors.
Since 1965, the OAA has supported and improved the lives of seniors—particularly those who are low-income—through programs that promote nutrition (e.g. Meals on Wheels), improve transportation options, support caregivers, offer employment and community service opportunities, and prevent abuse and neglect. This critical law was last reauthorized in 2016.
“For more than half a century, the Older Americans Act has served as a lifeline for millions of seniors by enriching their lives and improving their overall health,” said Senator Collins. “The bipartisan legislation we introduced today will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect, and community. Getting this bill across the finish line to strengthen the OAA’s programs while providing more flexibility for states to meet local needs is one of my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee. I urge all of our colleagues to support its swift passage and enactment.”
“The Older Americans Act serves more than 11 million Americans each year, including 400,000 people throughout Pennsylvania. It represents our commitment to the generations who made us who we are today and lifts up the seniors who need our help the most,” said Senator Casey. “This bill, which is the culmination of five roundtables with 34 Area Agencies on Aging representing 63 percent of the counties in Pennsylvania, and includes provisions to provide more support for grandparents raising grandchildren, to strengthen innovation to better show the value of Older Americans Act programming and to direct resources for multigenerational engagement. These provisions, combined with other updates to the Act, will ensure that our Area Agencies on Aging are prepared to meet seniors where they are – in their homes and communities.”
“On behalf of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), we appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senators Collins and Casey advancing the long-term reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA),” said Debra Whitman, Chair of LCAO, the coalition of national nonprofit organizations representing America’s older adults. “Older Americans all across the country depend on the OAA’s critical home and community based services and the aging network to stay healthy and engaged in their communities. We look forward to legislators from both parties working together to quickly pass legislation to support our growing aging population and help assure their healthy longevity.”
“Too often, people living with younger-onset Alzheimer's have been unable to access fundamental programs and services because of their age,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. "The resources available under the OAA are a critically important support system for older individuals with Alzheimer's and will improve the quality of life for individuals and their families."
“AARP applauds the bipartisan leadership of Special Committee on Aging Chair Susan Collins and Ranking Member Bob Casey in developing the Modernization of the Older Americans Act Amendments,” said Megan O’Reilly, Vice President for AARP Government Affairs, Federal Health and Family. “This legislation reaffirms our nation’s commitment to the well-being of older Americans and their caregivers. We look forward to working together on a prompt reauthorization to ensure that our loved ones have the support they need to live at home with independence and dignity as they age.”
Administered by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the OAA authorizes an array of services through a network of 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs).
In the last year alone, OAA programs:
- Served more than 700,000 caregivers; and
- Provided seniors across the country with 358 million meals.
In addition to supporting seniors, OAA programs are cost effective. The average cost of serving one senior Meals on Wheels for the entire year is $2,828, compared to the average of $2,424 it costs to stay for a single day in the hospital and the approximately $2,450 it costs to stay just ten days in a nursing home. By providing seniors with a hot meal, the Older Americans Act improves nutrition and keeps seniors out of the hospital, allowing them to age in their homes and communities. In fact, every $1 invested into the Older Americans Act generates $3 to help seniors stay at home and out of the hospital through low-cost, community-based services.
Specifically, Senators Collins and Casey’s bill would:
- Reauthorize the Older Americans Act for seven years with funding levels that better meet the growing needs, including a 7 percent increase in the initial year, and 6 percent increase annually for the remainder of the authorization;
- Extend the RAISE Family Caregivers Act for five years;
- Extend the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Council for one year;
- Improve the availability of transportation resources to seniors;
- Enhance flexibility for states to better address the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren;
- Ensure that those living with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease are included in key OAA services;
- Increase the focus on addressing detrimental impacts of social isolation; and
- Advances support for age-friendly communities.
- Improves elder abuse prevention activities through increased outreach and education activities.
- Increase transparency of home-modification opportunities for eligible older adults.
- Streamlines transferring process between nutrition programs.
- Upgrades data collection methods to understand unmet need in nutrition programs.
- Prioritize existing resources towards multigenerational programming.
- Bolster innovation in the OAA through thoughtful evaluation of demonstrations and existing programs.
In May, Senators Collins and Casey held an Aging Committee hearing to highlight the importance of reauthorizing the OAA.
This reauthorization is supported by dozens of organizations including the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, AARP, the National Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Advancing States, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP), National Alliance for Caregiving, Meals on Wheels America, the West Health Institute, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Alzheimer’s Association.