Senate Shows Support for Older Americans Act

WASHINGTON, March 23 – The Senate early this morning approved an amendment to the budget resolution backing the Older Americans Act, the landmark law that supports Meals on Wheels and other programs for seniors.

The amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was cosponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore).

Originally enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act was the first initiative by the federal government to help seniors remain independent in their homes and communities. Older Americans Act programs provide basic necessities such as meals, caregiver support, job training and placement, legal services, and protection from abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

The programs are needed now more than ever with the older adult population of the United States rapidly expanding and 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day. One in five of those over 65 are living on an average income of $7,500 per year and the numbers of seniors going hungry is rising. “We must grow and strengthen the programs that serve low income older Americans. It is the moral thing to do for our aging population, but it also saves money for our country,” Sanders said.

Among the organizations supporting the measure were the National Council on Aging, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Meals on Wheels Association of America, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Organization for Women and the Medicare Rights Center.

Sanders is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.