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house Bill H.R. 4334

Should the Older Americans Act be Reauthorized & Enhanced?

Argument in favor

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the single most important piece of legislation offering support to aging populations in the U.S. and their caregivers so that elderly Americans can live with dignity. There’s no question that it should be reauthorized to support the aging U.S. population.

Rebekah 's Opinion
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10/28/2019
Of course! Keeping elderly out of nursing homes saves enormous amounts of money, and betters lives. What we really need is Medicare For All and to spend our taxes on the 99%, not millionaires!
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/28/2019
I waffled quite a bit but eventually came down on the side of yes. However! There may be more effective ways to help our older generations. Lower drug prices, expand Medicare, things like that.
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Sheila's Opinion
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10/28/2019
As a caregiver for my parents I can say this bill definitely needs to be passed. My 75 year old disabled mother could not live on her own if she did not live with me. Social Security does not cover all her expenses for medicine. Even with Medicare and a secondary insurance. We don’t have to make it detrimental to children to provide for the elders. The USA has enough money to help feed everyone in need. That’s evident by the amount of food thrown away every day.
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Argument opposed

The federal government already spends far too much on old people, to the detriment of its spending on children. In particular, this bill’s aggressive ramp-up of federal spending on the Older Americans Act (OAA) is too extreme, and will inevitably lead to skimping elsewhere in an already bloated and overextended federal budget.

JTJ's Opinion
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10/28/2019
This is not the job of the federal government
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Justin's Opinion
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10/28/2019
It’s not our governments job to financially support people that aren’t responsible enough to save up for this time in their life. If the government keeps digging around in its pockets for everyone in need, it’ll never end. Just think about a spoiled kid that always gets money from his parents well into his life. He’s less likely to bust his hiney and do something with his life. Lazy people = weaker economy = vote no on this bill
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Doug's Opinion
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10/28/2019
If Congress would quit pillaging the social security trust fund, perhaps this program wouldn’t be needed in the first place.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedSeptember 16th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4334?

This bill — the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019 — would reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) for five years beginning in FY2020 and increase funding for a number of programs to help older Americans live independently and with dignity. This bill’s key provisions are summarized below.

Increases funding for all Older Americans Act Programs

This bill would authorize an inflation-adjusted 7% in funding for OAA programs in FY2020, then annual 6% in the next four years of the reauthorization period. This lead to a 35% total increase in program funding over the five-year reauthorization period.

Increase support and outreach services

To improve support for both caregivers and elderly persons and access to resources, this bill would:

  • Require outreach to identify individuals eligible for assistance under the OAA, with an emphasis on marginalized populations; 
  • Require the Assistant Secretary to publish a list of the resource centers and demonstration projects funded under the OAA on an annual basis;
  • Provide more tailored support to family caregivers;
  • Put a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions;
  • Require the Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services to create a new focus on the issue of social isolation among older adults at the national level;
  • Create a demonstration program specifically to provide grants to tribal organizations to carry out in-home and community supportive services; and
  • Establish the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Age-Friendly Communities and tasks the Committee with coordinating efforts to promote safe and accessible independent living environments.

Support research, evaluation, and demonstration efforts relating to aging

This bill would establish a National Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Center for the Aging Network in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of HHS. This Center would be responsible for conducting, promoting, and coordinating research, including evaluation and demonstration projects, and related technical assistance for projects related to aging. It would also increase the repository of information on evidence- based programs and interventions available to the Aging Network.

Increase older individuals’ economic opportunity and multigenerational engagement

This bill would put improve economic opportunity and multigenerational engagement. Specifically, it would: 

  • Add individuals who are justice-involved as a priority population for the Senior Community Service Employment Program; and
  • Allow demonstration funds to be used for multigenerational collaboration projects that provide opportunities for older individuals to participate in multigenerational activities and civic engagement activities.

Support aging in place

To help older individuals age in place, this bill would:

  • Create an initiative to coordinate federal resources to promote the independence and safety of adults living at home as they age, including resources targeting falls prevention, home assessments, and home modifications;
  • Codify the existing Falls Prevention and Chronic Disease Self-Management Education program into the OAA; and
  • Add a focus on focus on expanding and improving the direct care workforce through demonstration projects.

Impact

Aging persons; support for aging persons and their caregivers; in-home care for aging persons; HHS; and the Older Americans Act (OAA).

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4334

$10.90 Billion
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $10.9 billion over the 2020-2024 period and $1.4 billion after 2024.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced this bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) and increase funding for vital programs that help aging Americans live independently and with dignity

“Too many Americans struggle to meet basic needs and access crucial services as they age. The Dignity in Aging Act, an update of the Older Americans Act, will result in better outcomes for seniors and strengthen our communities. Though reaching a compromise can be challenging, I’m proud of the work we did to achieve a bipartisan agreement. I am committed to getting the Dignity in Aging Act signed into law, as well as continuing to do all I can to champion efforts that will build on this legislation and make sure every senior has access to the services they need, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

At this bill’s committee hearing, Rep. Bonamici said

“As the number of older Americans continues to increase, Congress must strengthen our support for OAA’s proven, long-standing programs. We must recommit to providing basic services and compassionate care to vulnerable members of our communities.”

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) supports this bill. NCOA President and CEO James Firman says:

“Aging with dignity is not an aspiration, it’s a human right and we applaud the Democratic and Republican lawmakers who are joining us in defending this principle. On behalf of tens of millions of aging adults, their families, and caregivers, NCOA thanks these forward-thinking lawmakers for the Dignity in Aging Act, which not only reauthorizes the Older Americans Act but creates a path for a future where all adults can age well in their communities, with health and economic security.”

This legislation passed the House Education and Labor Committee by voice vote with the support of 23 bipartisan cosponsors, including 14 Republicans and nine Democrats. 

A number of organizations advocating for older Americans support this bill. They include Meals on Wheels, AARP, the National Council on Aging, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).


Of NoteThe Older Americans Act (OAA) was originally passed in 1965. It is the primary legislation that covers social and nutrition services for older Americans and their caregivers. Today, it serves about 11 million older Americans through social services and community-based programs like Meals on Wheels. 

However, funding for the program hasn’t kept up with the growth of the American over-60 population. In 2010, OAA funding was $42.95 per senior in today’s dollars. Today it is $27.25 per senior. Consequently, its service levels have suffered. According to a 2015 GAO report, 83% of low-income older Americans who experience food insecurity do not receive any meal services through OAA, even though the program should provide this service to them.

In 2017, the federal government spent $1.4 trillion — 37% of that year’s budget — on programs for the elderly. By comparison, it spent only $377 billion — 9.8% of that year’s budget — on children. According to a report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, spending on children will fall to only 7% of the federal budget. Based on current trends, the Committee for a Responsible Budget projects that the government could end up spending twice as much servicing its debt as it does on children by 2030.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Cecilie_Arcurs)

AKA

Dignity in Aging Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2020 through 2024, and for other purposes.

    Of course! Keeping elderly out of nursing homes saves enormous amounts of money, and betters lives. What we really need is Medicare For All and to spend our taxes on the 99%, not millionaires!
    Like (58)
    Follow
    Share
    This is not the job of the federal government
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    I waffled quite a bit but eventually came down on the side of yes. However! There may be more effective ways to help our older generations. Lower drug prices, expand Medicare, things like that.
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    As a caregiver for my parents I can say this bill definitely needs to be passed. My 75 year old disabled mother could not live on her own if she did not live with me. Social Security does not cover all her expenses for medicine. Even with Medicare and a secondary insurance. We don’t have to make it detrimental to children to provide for the elders. The USA has enough money to help feed everyone in need. That’s evident by the amount of food thrown away every day.
    Like (44)
    Follow
    Share
    UPDATED for Mom; In many societies older members are revered for their experience, their contributions and their wisdom; and are broadly cared for by the general populace. I believe we used to do this as well. As a youngster I remember my Great Grandmother sitting in this big chair and treated like a queen holding court. As our society has sped up, as families have dispersed across the country and family-units have become less enduring, societal support of the elderly has greatly diminished and people disabled by age related maladies, unable to fully care for themselves either do not get support at all or are herded into Medicare facilities where profitability takes precedence over the patient’s dignity. I support this legislation so that those people who spent their lives building our societal successes and values are not simply disposed of as being too inconvenient to properly care for. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect despite their age related difficulties. … … Mom passed in late 2017, just days before her 96th birthday. She is the reason why I begin posting on this site. She was lucky enough to have children able to spend the time and help her live with some dignity despite increasingly worsening physical limitations. She was still mentally sharp and had a large Facebook following from her postings on ePinions earlier. Here is the reason I take the time to post on this site, from an earlier posting. … … … Mom, I know you are watching. I want you to know that I am truly, truly sorry. You were right and I was very wrong. Mom lived with us until she passed after 96 years of watching our government in action. She was absolutely terrified when Trump got elected and remarkably predicted many of the things that he has done. I argued that honorable people of all political stripes in our Congress would prevent this. I argued that our Federal institutions had too much inertia to be spun to his interests. I was horribly wrong. I didn’t count on the party-before-country entrenchment of the Republicans. I didn’t count on blizzard of unconfirmed and grossly unqualified temporarily appointed heads of our institutions to actively subvert the very reasons these institutions exist. I didn’t count on executive branch employees being terrified by the very public firing of a career employee the day before his pension would vest nor the forced relocation of EPA scientists from Colorado to Washington DC in order to disband them. Our military and most if not all of our Federal employees are expected to abide by a code-of-honor. Lying is not acceptable. Using your position for financial gain is not acceptable. Why have we allowed the president of our country to violate the code of honor that we expect other executive branch employees to abide by?
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    This should be a no-brainer, but the elderly will probably be abandoned by the GOP as other vulnerable segments of the population have been.
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    The Older Americans Act should be authorized. I think we need to do more with prescription drug prices, expanding Medicare For All, & paying back all the funds taken from Social Security!!!
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    Old people vote more then any group.
    Like (16)
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    The elderly have payed their dues. The least we can do for them is lend a helping hand when we can. Short of dying, we will all be in their place. I, for one, will support the mature American any way I can. More tax cuts and government funded programs should be implemented. We spend our tax on programs that don’t now and never will benefit the average American. It’s past the time to take a closer look where our pennies go, the dollars will take care of themselves. Time to read the fine print. I will be watching.
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    After paying taxes all of our lives, to live in dignity which all people should be able to do is reasonable to ask for.
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    Most gave their blood and sweat to build a better future for our descendants.
    Like (11)
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    Reauthorize the older Americans act and fund it more generously.
    Like (11)
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    Yes, we must support our senior citizens - this is the most important bill to help our aging population.
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    Absolutely why would it even be a question??
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    Anything for senior citizens! A twenty-year-old student once told me, "I just cannot stand old people. They give me the creeps." I would've asked her if she was getting any younger, but I thought the irony would've been lost on her.
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    It is hard enough getting older. Rearranging one's budget to support yourself, without much income. One's body changes and usually it does not ask how much will it cost to be sick, or have a caregiver. This bill should not only be reauthorized, but made easier. Seniors and their caregivers should not have to go through so much red tape, it makes for much anxiety.
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    It’s not our governments job to financially support people that aren’t responsible enough to save up for this time in their life. If the government keeps digging around in its pockets for everyone in need, it’ll never end. Just think about a spoiled kid that always gets money from his parents well into his life. He’s less likely to bust his hiney and do something with his life. Lazy people = weaker economy = vote no on this bill
    Like (9)
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    Yes it is important for our older generation to has sense of control
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    If Congress would quit pillaging the social security trust fund, perhaps this program wouldn’t be needed in the first place.
    Like (8)
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    more social services. take from military/war/weapon budget. tax the rich & tax corporations if need be.
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