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OAA Reauthorization Provides Welcome News

By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
March 26, 2020

For those in need of an uplifting story, the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into law this week after receiving bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. As a continuing advocate for OAA reauthorization, GSA applauded this news in a press release issued shortly after the signing.

This news is very timely. OAA-supported programs are provided to more than 11 million older adults and their caregivers annually. These programs are designed to prevent abuse and neglect, reduce social isolation, support caregivers, offer employment and community service opportunities, promote nutrition (through Meals on Wheels, as an example), and improve transportation options.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, another widely supported piece of legislation that GSA also supported, quickly became law in mid-March providing $250 million in emergency funds for the older adult nutrition programs of the OAA. It will allow many who normally received meals in community centers to have home-delivered or “grab-and-go” options.

The OAA has been reauthorized for five years and would see a 7% increase in funding in the initial year and a 6% increase annually. Although GSA has long supported OAA and its programs, this year was particularly meaningful because our advocacy efforts resulted in GSA-recommended language being inserted directly into the bill. As explained in the press release, GSA worked with committees in both the House and Senate on provisions to revitalize the OAA’s research, evaluation, and demonstration activities.

Particularly relevant in light of COVID-19 were GSA’s recommendations to address the challenges of social isolation and loneliness, as well as expansion of evidence-based health promotion programs to include infectious disease and vaccine-preventable disease.

We appreciate that Congress was consistent in soliciting and considering the recommendations of a broad array of constituencies and organizations during this reauthorization process. We also appreciate the committees’ leadership in crafting an OAA update that ensures that its innovative, efficient programs enable older Americans to live at home and in their communities for as long as possible and continue to be a lifeline for millions across the country.

I want to recognize GSA Vice President of Professional Affairs Trish D’Antonio for her tireless efforts to advance GSA’s thinking around the OAA. Under her leadership, along with GSA’s policy consultant, Brian Lindberg, the Society was able to have a meaningful impact on this legislation that improves the lives of older Americans and their caregivers.

GSA will continue to be an advocate for aging-related programs as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, utilizing the expertise of our members to inform our actions and making make your voices heard on Capitol Hill.

 

 

 

 

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