Rep. Susie Lee’s Bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization Signed into Law

March 25, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee’s (Nev.-03) bipartisan update to the Older Americans Act, which she co-led with House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Chair Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.-01) and Rep. Susan Wild (Pa.-07), was signed into law by the President.

The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R. 4334) increases funding for vital programs that help aging Americans live independently and with dignity. It reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA), which benefits roughly 11 million older Americans who use important social services and community-based programs like Meals on Wheels.

The legislation also strengthens the aging network's ability to respond to public health emergencies and emerging health threats, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on our seniors more than almost any other group of Americans," said Rep. Lee. "We're asking them to vigilantly self-isolate to protect themselves from the virus, which makes the dozens of critical programs funded by the Older Americans Act more important than ever. 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, it helps seniors avoid hospitalization or long-term financial and medical difficulties. As our senior population grows, we need to not just reauthorize but strengthen the vital Older Americans Act programs, which is exactly what this law does. This is a big success during a critical time for our country, and I want to thank my colleagues in Congress and the President for coming together across party lines to put the needs of our seniors first.”

“Seniors have served our communities for decades and need our support now more than ever,” said Chair Bonamici, “Strengthening programs that benefit our seniors has long been one of my top priorities, and I’m glad this significant update to the Older Americans Act is now law. It will provide a strong foundation to help meet the needs of seniors during this pandemic and beyond. I’m grateful that this updated bipartisan law will support Meals on Wheels, fight elder abuse, and help to address social isolation. At this time in our country, it’s especially important that we care for those who cared for us.” 

“We have a duty to protect our older populations and secure for them a life of dignity, good health, safety, and economic security,” said Rep. Wild. “I am deeply proud to have co-led the reauthorization and expansion of the Older Americans Act, which passed unanimously in the House, because in a public health crisis, the programs it supports are more critical than ever before. From funding for Meals on Wheels, to empowering local governments to create local solutions to mitigate the effects of social isolation, the Older Americans Act holistically addresses the issues our seniors are dealing with now and the issues they will deal with in the months to come. I am thankful for the contributions that older Americans have made, which have shaped a nation and with it future generations, and that Congress and the President are able to put aside partisanship in order to properly pay our thanks and protect and uplift our senior communities.”

BACKGROUND: The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020:

  • 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;
  • Calls for a study on the coordination of 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 aging Americans maintain their independence; and
  • Puts a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions.

To read the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 bill text, click here.