WASHINGTON, April 4 – More than two dozen senators on Friday called for a significant funding increase for Older Americans Act programs like Meals on Wheels in order to keep up with the increasing needs of a growing population of elderly Americans.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of a Senate subcommittee that oversees seniors’ programs, was joined by 26 colleagues in urging the chairman and ranking member of a Senate appropriations panel to provide at least a 12 percent increase in funding for the coming year.
In their letter, the senators said a 12 percent increase would be an important step toward meeting existing demand, addressing rising costs, and responding to the growth in the number of seniors over the past decade. There are now more than 60 million Americans over age 60. Some 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. People older than 85 make up the fastest growing segment of the elderly population, the group with the greatest need for nutrition services, caregiver support and services to protect them from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
The senators said investments in nutrition and other programs that help seniors stay healthy and live in their own homes save taxpayer dollars by reducing Medicare and Medicaid outlays for more expensive hospital and nursing home care.
“There are few better investments” than Older American Act programs “that millions of older adults rely on for a healthy and dignified life,” the senators wrote in the letter to Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), the chairman and ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee.
Despite growing need, federal funding levels for nutrition, caregiver supports and other services have failed to keep pace with rising demands and inflation.
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
To read the letter, click here.