Rep. Wild’s Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize the Older Americans Act Passes Education and Labor Committee

September 18, 2019
Press Release
Wild also Included an Amendment to Add Suicide Prevention to Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Services

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild’s (PA-07) bill, H.R. 4334, the Dignity in Aging Act, passed unanimously in the House Committee on Education and Labor. This bipartisan proposal reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA) and increases funding for vital programs that help seniors live independently and with dignity. Wild also included an amendment to add “screening for suicide risk” to the definition of “disease prevention and health promotion services,” which also passed unanimously.

“The Older Americans Act is as essential as Social Security and Medicare to providing basic services to Lehigh Valley seniors and I’m proud to join my colleagues in moving this bipartisan reauthorization forward and strengthening these programs,” Wild said. “As more and more older Americans experience social isolation and become a higher risk of increased health issues, and even suicide, it has never been more important to take care of our seniors and the programs they depend on. My amendment helps ensure that our seniors do not slip through the cracks and have easy access to proper suicide prevention and mental health services.”

The OAA, originally passed in 1965, is the primary legislation that covers social and nutrition services for older Americans and their caregivers. The Dignity in Aging Act responds to the challenges facing a growing generation of aging Americans by providing a 35 percent total increase in program funding for OAA over five years.

“As the population of Americans age 60 and over has grown, funding for OAA has not kept pace,” said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03). “In 2010, OAA funding was $42.95 per senior in today’s dollars.  Today, it is just $27.25 per senior. As a result of eroded funding, OAA services do not reach 83 percent of low-income older Americans who experience food insecurity. Congress must recommit to providing critical services and care to aging Americans”

The Dignity in Aging Act is cosponsored by Representatives Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Susie Lee (NV-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), James Comer (KY-01), and Dusty Johnson (SD-at-Large).

The Dignity in Aging Act responds to the challenges facing a growing generation of aging Americans. The bill:

  • Authorizes a 7 percent funding increase for OAA programs in the first year, then annual 6 percent increases in the following years;
  • Establishes a National Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Center for the Aging Network in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of HHS;
  • Creates an initiative to coordinate federal resources to promote the independence and safety of adults living at home as they age;
  • Provides more tailored support to family caregivers who play a vital role in helping again Americans maintain their independence; and
  • Puts a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions.