Good news for today’s seniors … after Republicans and Democrats called on Chairman John Kline to allow a vote on S. 192 The Older Americans Act, it was approved on March 21st (it had only been sitting in his ToDo box since July 16, 2015.
Not so good news for tomorrow seniors … Erik Paulsen’s mantra of “Do More With Less” is embraced.
The delays (or future funding shortfalls) was not mentioned when John Kline issued his press release and tweet:
Helping our seniors enjoy independence & stay healthy & active as they age is an important commitment we all share. https://t.co/rIubSmrKxx
— John Kline (@repjohnkline) March 21, 2016
The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major federal statute governing the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services for elderly Americans.
Since its inception in 1965, OAA has provided a wide range of assistance to seniors, including transportation, nutrition services such as “Meals on Wheels,” and referral to home care, health, and social services.
Technically, OAA had lapsed on September 30, 2012 although the funding had been maintained via continuing resolutions … but it needed to be updated … and that was something that had been on Chairman Kline’s ToDo list for years … as “Serving Seniors Through the Older Americans Act” hearing was held on February 11, 2014 as a result of H.R. 3850 Older Americans Act Reauthorization of 2014 authored by Republican Chris Gibson (NY-19) and Betty McCollum (D-MN-04).
The Senate did its job last year … but even influential Republican Vin Weber (who represented Minnesota in the Second and Sixth Districts) OpEd couldn’t push Chairman Kline to act.
Finally, Monday, the bill was brought to the floor … led by Republicans Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and joined by Chairman Kline and Chris Smith (NJ-04) with Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Scott Peters (D-CA-52), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX-15) adding their support for passage.
In fact, no one spoke out against the proposal … making one wonder WHY did it take Chairman Kline so long to do his job ?
Actually, the only concern expressed was that the funding was inadequate considering the growing senior population.
“Every day in our country, about 10,000 people turn 65, and as the population of older adults continues to grow we have a responsibility as policymakers to reevaluate and bolster the programs that keep seniors healthy, active, and engaged in their communities,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said in a speech on the House floor. “In the United States, its population of older adults is projected to increase from approximately 57 million people, who were aged 60 and older in 2010, to about 76 million older adults by our next census in 2020.”
Congressman Chris Smith added “In New Jersey, the Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services uses OAA funds to serve more than 500,000 individuals. From 2000 to 2010, New Jersey saw a 15 percent increase in individuals age 60 and older, representing 19 percent of the state population. By 2030, it is projected that those 60 and older will represent over 25 percent of the state population, making OAA services and programs more critical than ever.”
Congressman Peter DeFazio observed “It is wonderful that we are reauthorizing this, but the funding levels are inadequate. If you look at it over time, the senior population has grown dramatically, and those in need have grown dramatically; yet the funding, if you look back 10 years or so, in adjusted dollars, is actually less today. It is great we are reauthorizing it, but we do need to look for more funding.”
The approved legislation stated funding levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2019 … with a modest increase in the 2% range … yep, Erik Paulsen’s “Do More With Less” will be working overtime.
Actually, that increase is really questionable since the Republican-controlled House Budget Committee approved a FY2017 budget proposal that would eliminate the Social Services Block Grant program … that is the program that funds the Meals On Wheels program.
Well, let’s give Chairman Kline a THANK YOU for allowing the bill to be approved (by voice vote) … now, we gotta encourage him to protect the funding.
Yet, ya gotta think that one of the reasons that Republicans wanted this bill approved was so that they could issue press releases and seek support from seniors in November … yet the question must be asked : How will you fund the programs ?