Senate Health Committee Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Support Social and Nutrition Services for Nearly 12 Million U.S. Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 28 – The Senate health committee today unanimously approved the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation by U.S. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to support social and nutrition services for nearly 12 million seniors.

“The legislation passed by the committee today enables important senior programs like Meals on Wheels that provide needed support for more than 150,000 seniors in Tennessee alone,” said Alexander. “This legislation will also improve the lives of millions of seniors throughout the country by ensuring quality of care in nursing homes—or providing the resources older Americans need to live comfortably in their homes as they age.”

“I’m glad that we could come together in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize a bill that supports our seniors in leading healthy, independent lives,” said Murray. “From putting in place stronger elder abuse protections to ensuring funding for Meals on Wheels, the Older Americans Act makes critical improvements to programs that are lifelines for seniors in Washington state and across the country. I look forward to the Senate moving quickly to pass this legislation.” 

“The Older Americans Act is an important law for many of our seniors, particularly our most vulnerable,” said Burr. “I’m pleased that the HELP committee is swiftly moving this legislation, ensuring that services reach those who most need it. I am particularly pleased that the updated formula in this reauthorization will better benefit North Carolina-- it’s vital that funding for programs like Meals and Wheels reflects where seniors are moving.”  

In addition to providing grants to states for senior social and nutrition services, from Meals on Wheels to senior centers, the reauthorization also aims to protect vulnerable elders from abuse by increasing existing abuse screening and prevention efforts. This includes programs to ensure that all residents of a long-term care facility have access to an ombudsman. The reauthorization streamlines federal level administration of programs, promotes effective use of transportation services, and improves coordination between programs at the federal, state, and local levels. The reauthorization also adjusts the formula that allots state grants to account for geographic changes in the older population.

The Older Americans Act has been due for reauthorization since 2011. 

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