The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the law that since 1965 has provided a variety of essential programs and services to our most vulnerable older Americans, including Meals on Wheels, access to abuse prevention services, transportation assistance, and support for family caregivers. OAA programs save taxpayers money by reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions, and help older Americans stay in their homes and communities, where they want to be.
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Since 2010, AARP has consistently supported congressional reauthorization of the OAA, which expired over four years ago. In July 2015, AARP applauded the Senate when it unanimously passed S. 192, a bipartisan three-year OAA reauthorization bill that makes minor changes to strengthen and improve coordination of existing core services.
Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) on the Education and the Workforce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the OAA, have been working hard to reach an agreement on a House-version of the OAA reauthorization. Their negotiations hinge on coming to an agreement on funding authorization levels. Current indications are they could be getting close to an accord.
Recently, 65 House Members sent a bipartisan letter to Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott asking them to act on the reauthorization as soon as possible. The letter was strongly supported by AARP and several other groups in the aging community. AARP would especially like to thank Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Chris Gibson (R-NY) for spearheading this bipartisan effort.
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AARP urges the House of Representatives to take long overdue action to preserve the health and dignity of vulnerable older Americans by reauthorizing the OAA this year. With the shortened legislative calendar this election year, there is truly no time to waste. We urge you to contact your Member of Congress and tell them to renew the Older Americans Act without any further delay.
Joyce Rogers is AARP senior vice president for government affairs.
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