President Donald Trump signed the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 into law Wednesday.
By doing so, the president reauthorized the Older Americans Act (OAA). The OAA provides funding for services to thousands of agencies and organizations to help seniors maintain dignity and keep them out of nursing homes and hospitals.
Originally enacted in 1965, the OAA supports a wide range of home- and community-based services. Among its provisions, it helps provide transportation and meal delivery for seniors plus workforce training for caregivers.
Notably, the OAA funds Meals on Wheels, an organization which aims to address senior hunger and isolation in American communities.
“The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) is delighted that the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 has been signed into law,” C-TAC Executive Director Jon Broyles said in a release. “We applaud the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), as well as our champions in Congress and the Administration for their leadership and support of this bipartisan, bicameral legislation which will ensure that the Aging Network has the support it needs for years to come.”
The n4a is a nonprofit membership association representing 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in the U.S.
As defined in the act, the National Aging Network includes 56 state and territorial units on aging, with more than 600 AAAs and close to 20,000 community service providers, according to n4a.
The OAA being renewed at a time when seniors are especially in need of additional support, as the COVID-19 outbreak rattles the U.S. elderly population.
“It will also play a key role in aiding seniors and their loved ones as they navigate the ongoing spread of COVID-19,” C-TAC’s statement read. “The passing of this law comes amid a flurry of activity in Congress as lawmakers work together to help Americans as they face this public health emergency.”
The overarching goal of the OAA is to keep seniors in good condition and in their homes for as long as possible, which, in turn, reduces health care costs in the U.S.
Each state determines how to allocate its funding, which then enables the delivery of services to local areas.
President Barack Obama originally signed the OAA back into law in April 2016.
Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the OAA was introduced into the Senate earlier this month by Senators Susan Collins (R-maine) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).
“For more than half a century, the Older Americans Act has served as a lifeline for millions of seniors by enriching their lives and improving their overall health,” Collins said shortly after the legislation was unanimously passed in the Senate. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the OAA continues to match the goals we set to permit seniors to age with dignity, respect, and community.”