BURLINGTON, Vt., April 10 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading an effort to call for a significant increase in funds to support expanded access to meals, transportation, family caregiver support and other programs for seniors funded by the Older Americans Act.
Sanders wants a 12 percent increase in support for senior programs and he’s leading a group of 33 senators advocating for the much-needed investment in next year’s budget.
“The demand for these programs is great and in many areas of the country vulnerable seniors are on waiting lists for services that they desperately need,” wrote Sanders in a letter signed by 32 other senators. The letter was sent to the senate appropriations members who later this year will set funding levels for senior programs.
Sanders asks for an increase of $225 million in additional spending for the senior programs and notes in the letter that spending on these programs has not kept pace with inflation nor has funding kept pace with a rising number of seniors. More than 65 million Americans are over the age of 60 with another 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day. One in five seniors live on an average of $7,600 a year.
“OAA is a major vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition programs for 11 million older Americans,” Sanders wrote, noting that support for Meals On Wheels, caregiver support, elder rights protection, and community service and employment programs are desperately needed.
Separately, Sanders won unanimous approval during the recent Senate budget debate for a resolution supporting funding for programs that benefit older Americans.
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Richard Durbin (D-Ill.); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.); Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Bob Casey (D-Penn.); Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.); Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Jon Tester (D-Mont.); Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.); Joe Manchin (D-W.V.); Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii); Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Bill Nelson (D-Fla.); Al Franken (D-Minn.); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Tim Kaine (D-Va.); Angus King (I-Maine); Martin Heinrich (D-Minn.); Gary Peters (D-Mich.); Tom Udall (D-Colo.); and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Download the letter here.