The U.S. House of Representatives has finally passed the bipartisan Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020, H.R. 4334, reauthorizing the federal Older Americans Act (OAA) through 2024. The legislation passed in the Senate on March 3, in the House on March 11, and now moves to the President’s desk for signature. It’s been more than five months since the previous authorization expired on September 30, 2019.
This legislation will help ensure elders receive in-home personal care, healthy and consistent meals, transportation to critical medical appointments and other engagements, and access to legal services as well as those that prevent elder abuse and reduce social isolation. This reauthorization also supports the needs of unpaid and family caregivers who are playing an increasingly large role in supporting the needs of older adults. 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, caregiver support and elder abuse protections.
The reauthorization includes a funding increases of 7 percent in year one and 6 percent increases in each of the next four years. That works out to a total increase of 35 percent — significantly more than the total 6.8 percent increase over the previous three-year reauthorization.
The funding increases recommended in this legislation, if implemented by congressional appropriators, show strong federal support for funding levels that will allow Area Agencies on Aging, Title VI Native American aging programs and their partners in the Aging Network to not only continue but expand upon the important work they do to support the needs of elders.