U.S. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, legislation that supports social and nutrition services—from Meals on Wheels to senior centers—for nearly 12 million seniors.
“This legislation will help more than 150,000 seniors in Tennessee—and millions more throughout the country—by providing the support they need to live healthier, more independent lives as they age,” said Alexander. “This bill also strengthens the program to help ensure quality of care in nursing homes—giving peace of mind to residents and their families.”
“We should be doing everything we can to support our seniors in leading healthy, fulfilling lives,” said Murray. “I’m proud that from putting in place stronger elder abuse protections to ensuring funding for Meals on Wheels, this legislation makes important improvements to the care and resources available to seniors in Washington state and across the country.”
“The Older Americans Act is an important law for many of our seniors, particularly our most vulnerable,” said Burr. “I’m pleased that my colleagues and I are moving forward today to reauthorize this law and to ensure that the services it provides reach those who most need it. As more and more senior citizens choose to make North Carolina their home, it’s vital that funding for programs like Meals and Wheels reflects where seniors are moving.”
“In 2015, in the United States of America, seniors should not be worried about how they will get their next meal,” said Sanders. “They should have the supports available to them to remain in their homes and communities. Seniors in Vermont and around this country deserve to live with dignity and with a sense of security, and the Older Americans Act helps to provide that.”
In addition to providing grants to states for senior social and nutrition services, the reauthorization also aims to protect vulnerable elders from abuse by increasing existing abuse screening and prevention efforts. This includes programs to ensure that all residents of a long-term care facility have access to an ombudsman. The reauthorization streamlines federal level administration of programs, promotes effective use of transportation services, and improves coordination between programs at the federal, state, and local levels. The reauthorization also adjusts the formula that allots state grants to account for geographic changes in the older population.
The Older Americans Act has been due for reauthorization since 2011.