Rep. Lee, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization

September 17, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Member of the Committee on Education and Labor U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03), Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Chair Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.-01), and Rep. Susan Wild (Pa.-07) introduced the Dignity in Aging ActH.R. 4334, a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), which increases funding for vital programs that help aging Americans live independently and with dignity.   

The Older Americans Act (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.  

“The Older Americans Act funds dozens of critical programs that southern Nevada senior citizens rely on every day,” said Rep. Lee. “From Meals on Wheels and family caregiver support to legal services and transportation, the Older Americans Act does not just save lives and improve Americans’ quality of life, but it helps seniors avoid hospitalization or long-term financial and medical difficulties. These vital programs need to be updated to better serve our growing senior population, so I’m very pleased to stand with Chairman Scott, Chairwoman Bonamici, Congresswoman Wild, and my other colleagues to co-lead this bipartisan bill. I look forward to passing this important law.” 

“Too many Americans struggle to meet basic needs and access crucial services as they age,” said Rep. Bonamici. "The Dignity in Aging Act, an update of the Older Americans Act, will result in better outcomes for seniors, strengthening our communities. Though reaching a compromise can be challenging, I’m proud of the work we did to achieve a bipartisan agreement. I am committed to getting the Dignity in Aging Act signed into law, as well as continuing to do all I can to champion efforts that will build on this legislation and make sure every senior has access to the services they need, regardless of who they are or where they live.”  

“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 introducing this bipartisan reauthorization to strengthen these programs,” said Rep. Wild. “This bill keeps our promises to seniors by providing support to caregivers, programs like Meals on Wheels, and transportation services. 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.”  

BACKGROUND: From food assistance to transportation, the Older Americans Act provides funding for a wide range of services that help support 11 million Americans over the age of 60 every year. However, as the population of older Americans has grown, funding for OAA has not kept pace. In 2010, OAA funding was $42.95 per senior. Today it is $27.25 per senior. The Dignity in Aging Act is a bipartisan update to the Older Americans Act that responds to the challenges facing a growing generation of aging Americans. The bill:  

  • Authorizes a seven percent funding increase for OAA programs in the first year, then annual six 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;
  • Places a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions.   

The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.-21), James Comer (Ky.-01), and Dusty Johnson (S.D.-at-Large).  

The Dignity in Aging Act fact sheet is available here.  

The Dignity in Aging Act section-by-section is available here   

The Dignity in Aging Act bill text is available here