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Legislation modernizes services for older adults, including emergency planning

Arlington, VA (March 12, 2020) – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) applauds Congress for a strong bipartisan reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), modernizing the legislation to address the shifting needs of millions of older adults, including the recent coronavirus outbreak. The Senate passed the bill on March 3 and the House passed it yesterday.

Over 11 million older adults and their caregivers rely on OAA programs administered by the nationwide aging services network, including senior centers, healthy aging programs, nutrition, in-home services, transportation, caregiver support, and elder abuse protections.

“This reauthorization comes at a critical time, when the nation’s aging network is serving a rapidly growing population of older adults who need support to stay healthy and independent,” said Howard Bedlin, NCOA Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy. “We are pleased that many of NCOA’s priorities are in the final legislation, including technical assistance and best practices for how the aging network can respond to public health emergencies such as coronavirus.”

Among the provisions that NCOA supports are:

  • Authorizing a distinct center within the Administration on Aging to lead aging services research to evaluate and scale evidence-based programs that can improve quality of life, reduce health care costs, and promote independence.
  • Strengthening the OAA’s focus on healthy aging with specific authorizations for falls prevention and chronic disease self-management education; coordination of federal efforts for falls prevention and home modifications; and recognition of the aging services network’s role in addressing pain management, public health emergencies, and emerging health threats.
  • Protecting and providing a path for future investments in OAA programs, including for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which delivers workforce development opportunities to low-income older workers.

The legislation also addresses several priorities endorsed by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, of which NCOA is a leading member. These include social determinants of health, social isolation, caregiver support, elder justice and legal services, multigenerational collaboration, and services for Native Americans and other underserved populations.

“Now that the OAA is reauthorized, the next step is to fully fund it, so the resources are available to deliver needed services to older adults,” said Bedlin. “NCOA will urge Congress to invest in the OAA in the upcoming appropriations process.”

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.