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On Sept. 19, 2012, Sen. Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, and 14 original co-sponsors introduced comprehensive legislation to update and expand the Older Americans Act (OAA).

The bill addresses several NCOA priorities regarding economic security, senior centers, chronic disease, and falls.

S. 3562 combines OAA proposals from 10 Senate bills and a number of other informal recommendations.

Economic Security

The legislation adds to several of the provisions that were included in Sen. Sanders’ first OAA bill. In addition to defining economic security and establishing it as a goal of the Act, the bill:

  • Defines “economic security and benefits counseling.”
  • Calls upon the Assistant Secretary to coordinate activities and research with other federal agencies.
  • Promotes the adoption of economic security strategies.
  • Includes language that enhances legal assistance and adds new financial exploitation prevention activities.

Senior Centers

The bill retains NCOA’s proposal for a Multipurpose Senior Center Modernization program and provides that funding can be used for modernization in addition to construction.

Sen. Sanders’ original proposal for senior centers to utilize the paid and volunteer efforts of older adults also is included in the new legislation.

Chronic Disease and Falls

S. 3562 further strengthens the evidence-based nature of health promotion and disease prevention programs by:

  • Promoting care coordination for chronic disease.
  • Enhancing local efforts to increase awareness of and access to falls prevention programs.
  • Calling for screening for fall risk.
  • Strengthening integration of chronic disease self-management and falls prevention into the health and home and community-based services funded by OAA Supportive Services.

In his remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Sanders pledged to “aggressively” pursue passage of the bill in the lame duck session after the election or early next year.

His continued leadership is to be commended, and NCOA stands ready to work with him and House leaders to move OAA reauthorization through Congress as expeditiously as possible.