Federal support for Meals-on-Wheels and other community programs that serve older adults will continue for the foreseeable future, following recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA).
The three-year reauthorization was signed by President Barack Obama on April 19, capping a bipartisan legislation process that started in 2013.
Originally enacted in 1965, the OAA supports a wide variety of programs, including in-home supports, caregiver supports, health/wellness programs, elder abuse prevention, and information programs that help older adults navigate the benefit application process.
According to the National Councils on Aging (NCOA), the reauthorization supports the following provisions:
- Creating new support for modernizing senior centers
- Highlight the importance of addressing economic needs
- Require that health promotion and disease prevention efforts be evidence based
- Promote chronic disease self-management and fall prevention.
The reauthorization also includes stronger elder justice provisions, and provides clarity on caregiver supports, according to NOCA. It does not include limits on future growth of OAA appropriations.
The OAA provides services for nearly 12 million older Americans, but hadn’t been re-authorized since 2011. NCOA said the bipartisan reauthorization effort took a “modest” approach, which “scaled back” language from previous attempts.
“For example, rather than authorizing a new stand-alone demonstration program to identify model senior center modernization approaches and provide training and technical assistance to help other centers adopt them, the bill simply gives the Assistant Secretary for Aging the authority to accomplish this with existing resources,” said a NCOA summary on the reauthorization.