The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has joined a group of like-minded organizations in urging members of Congress to support the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R. 4334) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA).
NAHC appreciates the diligent bipartisan and bicameral efforts to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which expired on September 30, 2019. Achieving a reauthorization of this critical Act that reaffirms and protects its mission will ensure the sustainability of vital OAA programs, as well as the health, dignity, and independence of the older Americans and their caregivers who depend on them.
The OAA is essential to developing, coordinating, and delivering home and community- based services that help older adults remain in their homes and communities as they age. Many individuals served by OAA-funded programs would otherwise be at significant risk of hunger, isolation, abuse, and losing their ability to choose where they want to age. OAA-supported programs are provided to more than 11 million seniors and their caregivers annually, and include, but are not limited to, home-delivered and congregate nutrition services, in-home supportive services, multipurpose senior centers, transportation, caregiver support, disease prevention and health promotion, community service employment, the long-term care ombudsman program, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults.
By keeping seniors healthy and in their communities for more than 50 years, OAA programs have also delayed or prevented the need for more expensive institutional care for many older adults, which is often paid for through Medicare or Medicaid. OAA services can effectively save taxpayer, state, and federal dollars and promote efficiencies within the health care system.
The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 builds upon both the House-passed Dignity in Aging Act (H.R. 4334) and the Senate-introduced Modernization of the Older Americans Act Amendments (S. 3057) to incorporate a number of important priorities articulated by stakeholder organizations. Most importantly, the bicameral compromise calls for necessary investments in the OAA by increasing funding authorizations over the next five years—a top priority of the undersigned organizations and the most critical need of the Aging Network authorized by the OAA.
Other priorities within the bill address research and demonstrations, Native American services, local planning and development, supports for those living with dementia and social isolation, legal services, nutrition, in-home supportive services, disease prevention and health promotion, multi-generational collaboration, and family caregiver supports. We appreciate that the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 preserves the numerous ways in which this Act works so well at the federal, state, and local level, on behalf of the older adults and caregivers for whom it is a lifeline to dignity, independence, health, safety, and economic security.
NAHC will continue to advocate for this legislation and will keep you updated on developments in NAHC Report.