April 08, 2016
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. House-amended S. 192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, will now be sent to President Obama to sign. Reauthorization of the bill is long overdue; authorization expired in 2011.
Consumer Voice applauds the passage of the Reauthorization of OAA as it will help older adults age with independence and dignity in their homes and communities, and protect elders in long-term care facilities and other settings. The Older Americans Act (OAA), enacted in 1965, is the primary vehicle for services and funding in every state that support the dignity and welfare of individuals age 60 and older. These services include home-and-community based services; nutritional programs; health promotion and disease prevention activities for seniors; and programs that protect vulnerable seniors, such as the long-term care ombudsman program.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is authorized under the Older Americans Act and administered at the state level. It provides residents of long-term care facilities with access to effective advocacy in order to ensure that they receive the quality of care and quality of life they deserve and are entitled to by law. House Bill S.192 strengthens and improves this program’s effectiveness in a number of important ways. It clarifies both organizational and individual conflicts of interest within the program; improves resident access to ombudsmen; better protects the confidentiality of ombudsman information; ensures that State Ombudsmen receive ongoing training; and permits ombudsmen, when feasible, to continue to serve residents transitioning from a long-term care facility to a home care setting. Furthermore, House Bill S.192 takes an important step toward better ensuring quality home care by directing the Assistant Secretary of Aging to develop a consumer-friendly tool, when possible, to assist older individuals and their families in choosing home and community-based services.
Thank you to all who advocated many times over the past five years to help achieve the passage of this important bill!