Rep. Stevens Applauds House Passage of the Dignity in Aging Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, preserving funding for state and local programs to ensure our nation’s older adults have access to food, transportation, and other basic services they need to live independently and with dignity. H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act, passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11), a cosponsor of the Dignity in Aging Act, released the following statement in support of the bill’s passage:
“As our population has grown older, funding for programs that support older Americans has not kept pace,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “The bipartisan Dignity in Aging Act will help millions of older Americans live full lives and remain independent for as long as possible by providing essential social and nutrition services. We must continue to care for our elders and ensure that their lives are comfortable, autonomous, and safe.”
First passed in 1965 alongside Medicare, Medicaid, and landmark civil rights laws, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society initiative. OAA currently provides assistance to 11 million Americans age 60 and over every year. It funds a wide range of popular programs and services that millions of seniors rely upon every day, including Meals on Wheels, transportation services, and part-time job opportunities to support financial security and combat social isolation. For many older individuals, OAA programs are vital to their health, wellbeing, and independence. However, as the population of Americans age 60 and over has grown as the baby boomers continue to age, funding for OAA is not keeping pace. In 2010, OAA funding was $42.95 per senior in today’s dollars. Today it is $27.25 per senior – falling far short of meeting the basic needs of older adults.
As a result, 83 percent of low-income older Americans who experience food insecurity do not receive any meal services through OAA, according to a 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The same report found that two-thirds of older Americans who struggle with daily activities received limited or no home-based care services.
The Dignity in Aging Act is a bipartisan update to OAA that responds to the challenges facing a growing generation of aging Americans by increasing funding for OAA programs, supporting caregivers, focusing on social isolation, improving economic opportunity for older individuals, promoting safe and accessible independent living environments, ensuring coordination with resource centers, and more.