The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved S 1562, the bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 (OAA; S 1562) on October 30, 2013. NARC has endorsed this version, which represents a bipartisan compromise bill introduced jointly by Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Tom Harkin (IA) and Lamar Alexander (TN) to reauthorize OAA programs through 2018. This compromise version comes on the heels of the proposal Senator Sanders introduced earlier in the summer of 2013 (S 1028) to reauthorize OAA programs, which expired in 2011. Sanders introduced a bill half the size of his 2012 proposal in an effort to focus on reauthorizing provisions with widespread agreement. While S 1028 supported a 12 percent increase in desired funding levels reflecting the growth in the number of seniors served by its programs and the increased cost of services since the last reauthorization, S 1562 continues current level authorization for existing programs. The Older Americans Act is relevant to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and many of NARC’s members, because it aims to keep seniors nationwide healthy, independent using cost effective strategies such as aging in place. NARC is working with Senate committee staff and will have additional information and resources as the bill moves forward.
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- The Senate HELP Committee passed a bipartisan draft of the reauthorization proposal (S 1562) on October 20, 2013. The markup is available HERE.
- The Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging held a hearing on Reducing Senior Poverty and Hunger on June 19, 2013
- Markup on the reauthorization proposal S 1028 is expected in July 2013
- The measure currently has 17 co-sponsors, but no Republican support
- Both Sanders and Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin have said they hope to have a markup on the measure soon, but have not identified a timelines for full committee consideration
- There is no activity yet regarding this bill in the House
- NARC endorsement letter for S 1562
- n4a endorsement letter for S 1562
- NACo on the Older Americans Act
- Letters from n4a and AARP regarding the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2013 (credit: n4a and AARP)
Older Americans Act of 2013
- HELP Committee OAA Bipartisan draft (S 1562) and summary
- Hearing information on Reducing Senior Poverty and Hunger
- Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Homepage
- Older Americans Act, S 1028 Bill Text (committee print)
- Senator Sanders’ Fact Sheet on the bill
- Letters in support of Senator Sanders’ Amendments to S 1028
Since its inception in 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) has evolved to meet the changing needs of an aging America. The legislation was originally passed by Congress in response to concern by policymakers about a lack of community social services for older persons. Today the OAA is considered the major vehicle for the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services to seniors and their caregivers. As the nation’s aging population continues to grow over the next few decades, it is important to expand the OAA in order to provide the Aging Network with the resources it needs to allow America’s seniors to live healthily and independently.
Last reauthorized in 2006, the OAA expired in 2011. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a 2013 reauthorization bill that more streamlined than his 2012 version, but maintains the intent of the original Older Americans Act. Budgets for senior nutrition were slashed this year because of across-the-board spending cuts knows as sequestration. Sanders’ bill would authorize significant increases in support for meals at senior centers and programs like Meals on Wheels that deliver food to seniors’ homes. However, it does not include specific funding levels for most OAA programs, and instead appropriates such sums as may be necessary.
The Older Americans Act is an important piece of legislation to both NARC and its members, and NARC will continue to provide additional information on the progress of the bill as it becomes available.