A group of U.S. senators are requesting an increase in financial support from the Senate Committee on Appropriations for the Older Americans Act. Programs offered through the OAA help keep seniors living safely and independently in their homes, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars, they note.
Led by Sen. Bernard Sanders, 27 senators—including Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin—are requesting a 12% funding bump above fiscal year 2014 levels for programs authorized under the Older Americans Act.
This translates to a $225 million increase to “recognize the growth in the senior population” and an associated growth in the cost of services.
“Your past support for OAA programs has been strong and has resulted in vital assistance for millions of older Americans,” the senators wrote in an April 3 letter to Sens. Tom Harkin and Jerry Moran, both on the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “With the historic aging of our nation’s population, increased funding for OAA programs is particularly critical in the coming years.”
OAA programs include home-delivered nutrition services such as Meals on Wheels, family caregiver support, elder rights protection for vulnerable seniors, and other supportive services such as transportation.
With 10,000 boomers turning 65 each day, demand for these types of services is already large, and seniors in many areas of the country are on waiting lists for services they “desperately need,” says the letter.
“Regretfully, federal funding levels for OAA programs have failed to keep pace with inflation or the growing need, despite the cost-effectiveness of these critical programs,” the senators write. “…Investing in OAA services saves taxpayer dollars by reducing premature and costly Medicare and Medicaid expenditures resulting from unnecessary nursing home placement.”
A 12% increase would still be insufficient, they say, but would represent an important step toward meeting existing demand.
Written by Alyssa Gerace