Hassan- and Shaheen-Backed Bill Would Authorize Increased Funding for Critical Programs that Support Seniors including Meals on Wheels
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate yesterday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), to reauthorize and strengthen critical programs under the Older Americans Act.
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. The bill that passed the Senate yesterday would reauthorize the Older Americans Act for five years and now goes to the House for consideration.
“This bipartisan bill will help provide increased funding for vital programs such as Meals on Wheels that support older Americans and help them remain in their communities,” Senator Hassan said. “I am also glad that this bill provides additional supports to help address challenges that grandparents raising grandchildren face, which is an issue I hear about across our state, particularly as a result of the substance use disorder crisis. I urge the House of Representatives to pass this bipartisan bill swiftly so that we can get it to the president’s desk.”
“The Supporting Older Americans Act has enriched the lives of millions of seniors, helping them access the support they need to age with dignity and remain active participants in our communities,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bill will reauthorize and bolster senior meal programs like Meals on Wheels that provide nutrition and important social ties to help aging Granite Staters stay healthy. I’m pleased the Senate passed this legislation and I urge the House to move quickly to approve it so it can be enacted into law.”
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.
The reauthorization bill was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). In addition to Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the bill is also cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Doug Jones (D-AL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Rick Scott (R-FL).
This reauthorization is supported by more than 128 organizations including Meals on Wheels America, 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, the Jewish Federations of North America, National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the Alzheimer’s Association.
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.