Senate Unveils a Draft Older American’s Act Reauthorization Bill

Legislation | June 11, 2019 | by Andrea Price-Carter

The Older American’s Act (OAA) reauthorization process is moving along quickly. Last week, the Senate Health, Education and Labor (HELP) Committee released a bipartisan discussion draft to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA)

The Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization process is moving along quickly. Last week, the Senate Health, Education and Labor (HELP) Committee released a bipartisan discussion draft to reauthorize the OAA.

The draft bill includes several of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) Consensus Recommendations for the 2019 Older Americans Act Reauthorization. LeadingAge is a founding member of the LCAO, a large coalition of the nation’s non-profit organizations serving older Americans, who provide a voice for seniors and their families in the ongoing national debate on aging policy.

 

However, the HELP Committee draft OAA Bill does not address any changes to Title V, the SCSEP Programs as identified by LCAO and highlighted in the May 6, 2019 LeadingAge letter. Additionally, LCAO recommends that lawmakers include authorization amounts for the OAA that are, at a minimum, baseline at the $2.5 billion level to restore the service capacity of the aging network. They also encourage lawmakers to index annual authorization increases to reflect corresponding increases in the population and inflation. The draft bill does not include authorization levels, which will be included in the final version of the bill.
 

The draft includes provisions that require federal agency consultation to promote age-friendly communities and address the ability of older individuals to access long-term care supports, and improve coordination to provide housing, health care and other supportive services to older individuals. The provisions are based off S. 1536, the Age Friendly Communities Act of 2019, sponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). LeadingAge endorsed S. 1536.

 

The draft bill also requires the Assistant Secretary for Aging to review existing OAA programs and determine if and how the programs are adequately addressing social isolation for older individuals. LeadingAge serves as a co-chair of the Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness Policy Committee, and the committee members identified amending the OAA to address social isolation in their Policy Agenda.

 

Stakeholders are also encouraged to continue to work with Senators on their OAA legislative priorities, with the hope that the final version of the bill will address their priorities. The House Education and Labor Committee will likely mirror the Senate process and release an OAA Reauthorization bill that has bipartisan support among the members. Both chambers are aiming to have a bill marked up prior to the August Congressional Recess.