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Congresswoman Lori Trahan Fights for Massachusetts Seniors During Education and Labor Markup

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Committee on Education and Labor passed the Dignity in Aging Act (H.R. 4334) with Congresswoman Trahan’s support. This bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) 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.

“Congress has an obligation to take care of the most vulnerable among us, like our senior citizens. They are our mothers and fathers; grandmothers and grandfathers; family and friends. Despite that, funding for the Older Americans Act (OAA) has not kept pace with the growth of the American population over the age of 60. 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 are not reaching 83 percent of low-income older Americans who experience food insecurity. Congress must recommit to shoring up critical services and care to aging Americans, and this bill is a significant step in the right direction,” said Congresswoman Trahan.

The legislation advanced today contained language that Congresswoman Trahan worked to secure in cooperation with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Specifically, Rep. Trahan fought to:

  • Remove a funding cap that unnecessarily reduced aid to older relative caregivers, including grandparents who are serving in caregiving roles due to the opioid addiction epidemic and,
  • Ensure that screening for malnutrition is among the routine health screenings supported by OAA funds. 

Additionally, the Dignity in Aging Act:

  • 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.

The Dignity in Aging Act fact sheet is available HERE: