In the same week as its 50th anniversary, the Senate finally renewed the Older Americans Act (OAA). Thanks to the bipartisan support of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Older Americans Act is moving forward after 5 years of inaction.
Appropriately timed with the White House Conference on Aging held earlier last week, the OAA reauthorization addresses AARP’s core concern for any legislation to protect, nourish and sustain our nation’s older Americans, help them maximize their choices, and promote dignity and independence in a fiscally responsible way.The OAA helps older Americans live independently by:
- Supporting nutrition programs, including Meals-on-Wheels;
- Providing home and community-based services, including preventive health services and transportation assistance;
- Assisting family caregivers with information and referral, counseling and respite care;
- Preventing and detecting elder abuse; and
- Providing part-time community service employment and training, including the Senior Community Employment Program (SCSEP), which has helped more than 1 million older Americans enter the workforce.
Since it was enacted into law in 1965, millions of vulnerable older Americans have relied on the services provided by the Older Americans Act for their health and economic security. Without these transportation options and services, many seniors would be isolated from their communities. These programs supported by the Older Americans Act are crucial in ensuring that graying Americans can live and age with dignity and independence.
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After several years of carefully crafting and revising legislation, the U.S. Senate successfully passed the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act on July 16. Although that is reason to celebrate after many years of delay, the bill still must pass the House of Representatives before it is renewed.
While we would like for the House to take up and pass the Senate bill, the process in the House of Representatives could take months. Aging is something that can’t wait. The older population continues to grow and require assistance, and we urge the House of Representatives to act without delay.
Please read, share and tell the House of Representatives: renew the Older Americans Act. There are no political “sides” when it comes to seniors’ health and well-being.
Follow me on Twitter @DavidCertner for the latest updates on what’s happening in Washington on the issues that matter most to older Americans.
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