Hassan- and Shaheen-Backed Bill Authorizes Increased Funding for Critical Programs For Seniors, including Meals on Wheels
WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to reauthorize and strengthen critical programs under the Older Americans Act passed the House this week and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.
Since 1965, the Older Americans Act has supported and improved the lives of seniors — particularly low-income seniors — through programs that improve transportation options, support caregivers, offer employment and community service opportunities, prevent abuse and neglect, and support nutrition, such as Meals on Wheels. This critical law was last reauthorized in 2016 and expired after September 2019. This legislation reauthorizes the Older Americans Act for five years.
“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that older Granite Staters and Americans receive the essential services that they need, such Meals on Wheels, to help them lead productive and fulfilling lives,” Senator Hassan said. “The bill also provides additional supports to help address the challenges that grandparents raising grandchildren face -- an increasingly common situation as a result of the substance misuse crisis. I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure additional resources to support older Americans, and I urge the President to sign this bipartisan legislation into law once it reaches his desk.”
“The Older Americans Act has helped to ensure millions of American seniors are able to age with dignity and remain active participants in our communities,” Senator Shaheen said. “This legislation reauthorizes and bolsters senior meal programs like Meals on Wheels, which provides nutrition and important social ties to aging Granite Staters. I’m very pleased Congress has moved swiftly to pass this legislation and I urge President Trump to sign it into law as soon as possible.”
Administered by the Administration for Community Living, the Older Americans Act authorizes an array of services through a network of 56 State Units on Aging and more than 600 Area Agencies on Aging serving older Americans throughout the nation.
Specifically, the bipartisan bill would:
· Reauthorize the Older Americans Act for five 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 one additional year;
· 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 Older Americans Act services;
· Improve elder abuse prevention activities through increased outreach and education activities;
· Increase transparency of home-modification opportunities for eligible older adults.
In January, Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Hassan sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation calling on the Trump Administration to boost funding for the Older Americans Act in his budget proposal to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2021. More than 30,000 seniors in New Hampshire rely on the Meals on Wheels program, which operates under the Older Americans Act, for nutritious food. The program has become strained for resources in parts of the state as New Hampshire keeps up with an aging population. Additionally, Senator Hassan has been working on efforts in the Senate to support grandfamilies and other relative caregivers. In July 2018, the bipartisan Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act – which Senator Hassan cosponsored – became law. And last December, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee reauthorized the bipartisan Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which includes measures that Senator Hassan fought to include to ensure that family members caring for children who have been exposed to substance misuse or other trauma are eligible for necessary child support services.