Older Americans Act Reauthorization Signed into Law by President Obama
May 4, 2016 10:54 AM
On April 19, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Public Law No: 114-144). The legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2016 and by the U.S. Senate in April 2016. Val J. Halamandaris, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), praised its enactment into law. “We are happy to see the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act finally wind its way through Congress, making positive contributions to aging Americans and their ability to remain independent in their communities,” Halamandaris said.
Speaking at the White House Conference on Aging in 2015, President Obama said that the OAA reauthorization “will provide critical support to families and communities.” President Obama’s Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett said that President Obama was “proud” to sign the legislation into law. “As our population changes, we have a collective responsibility to make sure older Americans can both take advantage of the opportunities of their golden years and overcome the barriers that aging can create,” she said.
Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee also spoke about the importance of the law. “For more than 50 years, the Older Americans Act has helped people live the lives they want, with the people they choose, throughout their lives,” she said. “The OAA underpins a promise to preserve the right to live independently, with dignity, making everyday decisions according to our individual preferences and goals across our lifespan. This promise is more important than ever. In a few short years, more than 77 million people will be over the age of 60, and more than 34 million people – mostly family and friends – will be supporting a loved one who is over 60. These numbers will continue to grow for the next several decades. The OAA affects everyone – older adults, people who help support them, and all of us who hope to one day grow old.”
The OAA reauthorization supports the ability of the elderly to live independently in their communities. It requires the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman to publish a report on the “best practices related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities.” It also requires the federal government to “develop, when feasible, a consumer-friendly tool to assist older individuals and their families in choosing home and community-based long-term care services, with a particular focus on ways for consumers to assess how providers protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of older individuals.”
In its yearly Legislative Blueprint for Action, NAHC expresses support for federal funding for provisions of the Older Americans Act that combat elder abuse and increased support for caregivers.