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Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

This page contains resources and information on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Click on the topic areas below to find more information.

News and Updates

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act!  House-amended S. 192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, has been signed by President Obama.  Reauthorization of the bill is long overdue; authorization expired in 2011.  S.192 Older Americans Act (OAA) bill includes provisions that would make the long-term care ombudsman program more effective and help long-term care consumers.  The bill will reauthorize the current OAA, which expired in 2011.

Click here to read the bill, S.192, OAA Reauthorization Act of 2016.

Click here to compare the House bill with the Ombudsman provisions of the current Older Americans Act. 

Click here to read the letter Consumer Voice submitted in support of the bill.

More information about the bill:
House S. 192 includes provisions clarifying both organizational and individual conflicts of interest within the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program; improving resident access to ombudsmen; better protecting the confidentiality of ombudsman information; ensuring that State Ombudsmen receive ongoing training; and, permitting ombudsmen, when feasible, to continue to serve residents transitioning from a long-term care facility to a home care setting.

What the House bill includes: The main difference between the Senate version and the House bill is that the House bill includes specific authorization levels for funding that in general would increase 6.777 percent over three years and changes to the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) program.  

Information regarding the recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act is now available on the ACL website. Click here to find the official compilation, frequently asked questions, summary of changes, and more.

What is the Older Americans Act?

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.

Why is the Older Americans Act Important to Long-Term Care Consumers?

Long-term care consumers benefit greatly from provisions included in the Older Americans Act. This law assists LTC consumers by: 

Helping to Promote Home and Community-Based Long-Term Care Services for Older Americans to Prevent or Delay the Need for Institutional Care: The OAA funds a range of home and community-based services for older Americans, including assisted transport services, home-delivered nutrition services, homemaker and chore services and transportation.

Helping to Educate Older Americans on Their Long-Term Care Options and Benefits: The OAA provides formula funding to states and Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) for the purpose of providing information and assistance on long-term care options to older adults and caregivers. The law also authorizes Benefits Counseling programs in each state that assist older individuals, their family members and/or caregivers in applying for benefits and services, understanding their rights, exercising choice and maintaining their rights in solving disputes.

Protecting Elderly Long-Term care Consumers: The OAA requires each state to have a long-term care ombudsman program.Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. They work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about improvement in resident care and quality of life at the facility, local, state and national levels.

Combating Elder Abuse: The OAA combats the prevalence of elder abuse by providing states with grants to conduct elder justice activities (such as strengthening civil and criminal enforcement in court cases impacting older individuals and the creation of State Working Groups to enhance the coordination of federal, state, and local entitites on elder abuse issues), administering elder abuse prevention programs, and funding the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Supporting Family Caregivers: The OAA provides funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Native American Caregiver Support Program. These programs assist individuals that serve as unpaid caregivers for persons sixty or older and also grandparents that serve as primary caregivers for grandchildren or other related children living in the grandparent's home.

Providing Access to Legal Services: The OAA helps provide legal services for the elderly through grants designed to help states intergrate low cost service mechanisms - such as senior legal helplines -  into state legal service systems. The law also provides funding to Area Agencies on Aging for the purpose of providing legal services to the elderly. 

Why did the OAA need to be reauthorized? 

Reauthorizing the Older Americans Act allows Congress to update and improve upon the law's vital programs and services. The OAA is required to be reauthorized every four years in order to provide Congress this opportunity. Reauthorization expired in 2011 and in 2016 was reauthorized once more.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

The Consumer Voice also advocates strengthening the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provisions in the Older Americans Act to better protect residents of long-term care facilities. To read more about this issue, click here.

Highlights of changes related to the LTCOP, elder abuse, and the funding formula for Titles III B, C & D are below.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

  • Authorizes Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman programs to serve all LTC facility residents, regardless of their age. 711(6)
  • Clarifies that the state LTC Ombudsman is responsible for the fiscal management of the Office of the State LTC Ombudsman. 712(a)(2)
  • Clarifies that LTC Ombudsman programs may work to resolve complaints on behalf of residents unable to communicate their wishes, including those lacking an authorized representative. 712(a)(3)(A)(i)& (a)(5)(vi)
  • Requires state LTC Ombudsmen to ensure that residents have private, unimpeded access to the program. 712(a)(3)(D)
  • Requires LTC Ombudsman programs to actively encourage, and assist in the development of, resident and family councils in long-term care facilities. 712(a)(3)(H)(iii) & (a)(5)(vii)
  • Authorizes LTC Ombudsman programs to serve residents transitioning from a LTC facility to a home-care setting, when feasible. 712(a)(3)(I)
  • Clarifies that the LTC Ombudsman program is considered a “health oversight agency” for purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 712(b)(3)
  • Applies OAA disclosure provisions to all LTC Ombudsman program information (rather than only “files and records”) and clarifies exceptions for disclosure of information relating to residents unable to communicate their wishes, including those lacking an authorized representative. 712(d)(2)(c)
  • Provides specific examples of individual and organizational conflicts of interest, requiring remediation or removal of such conflicts. 712(f)
  • Requires that each state LTC Ombudsman or his/her designee participate in training provided by the National Ombudsman Resource Center. 712(h)(4)
  • Requires the Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs to collect and analyze promising practices related to responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities. 201(d)(3)(M)

Elder Abuse

  • Updates definitions of “adult protective services,” “abuse,” “exploitation and financial exploitation,” and “elder justice” to be consistent with the Elder Justice Act. 102(1),(3), (17)&(18)
  • Promotes best practices for responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities through the Administration on Aging. 201(d)(3)(M)
  • Promotes states’ submission of data concerning elder abuse. 102(3)(A); 721(b)(5)
  • Directs the Administration on Aging to include, as appropriate, training on elder justice, including abuse prevention and screening, for states, area agencies on aging, and service providers. 202(d)(4)(g)
  • Requires area plans to include efforts to increase public awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. 306(a)(6)(H)

Funding Formula for Titles III B, C & D

  • No state shall be allotted less than: 99% of the allotment for the previous year for each of FY2017-FY2019, or 100% of the FY2019 allotment for FY2020 and each subsequent fiscal year. 304(a)(3)(D)

Click here to read more information about how the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provisions in the Older Americans Act will better protect residents of long-term care facilities.

Consumer Voice Resources

Other Useful Resources & Links

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