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As Congress enters its lame duck session, a coalition of advocacy organizations including LeadingAge and AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is reinforcing its appropriations priorities for older adults through letters to House and Senate leadership. Among them is $65 million for a long-term care ombudsman program to work with residents of assisted living and other community-based long-term care settings that are “less regulated” and where “residents often need greater advocacy.”

In a letter to the Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations referenced asked for investment to address the growing older adult population, and to improve and expand access to services for at-risk older adults and their caregivers, mostly through programs funded by the Older Americans Act.

“At this time we urge Congress to fund programs and services for older adults at levels that reflect the true and growing need in communities across the country and that, in turn, will help to build a stronger and more equitable American economy,” wrote LCAO Chair Ramsey Alwin, who is also president and CEO of the National Council on Aging. “We have the solutions and we know how to best serve older adults in our communities — we just need the funding to support these best practices.”

The letter highlights a $10 million recommendation included in the Senate’s fiscal year 2023 Labor-HHS appropriations bill for the Department of Labor to fund competitive grants through the Administration for Community Living. The funds would be used to significantly expand, stabilize and retain direct support workers who provide home- and community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities.

The recommendation, according to a LeadingAge spokeswoman, is in line with a May request urging Congress to allocate funding to ACL’s Title IV demonstration programs.

In its earlier letter, the coalition noted that direct care workers are “not adequately compensated or valued,” career advancement and training programs are insufficient, and the growing workforce recruitment and retention crisis “threatens both this sector and the livelihood of older adults.”

Funding those demonstration programs, the coalition said, would support recruitment, retention and advancement of direct care workers. The goal of the programs is to strengthen both the “quality of direct care jobs and the quality of care for older adults and people with disabilities.”

The group’s priorities also include $70 million to support core state long-term care ombudsman program work, falls prevention, family caregiver support, adult protective services and nutrition and health services.

“Without your investment in these discretionary initiatives, the valuable services that prevent and reduce hunger, isolation, poor health, neglect, abuse, unemployment and other challenges among older Americans will fail to reach the aging population in need of these services,” the coalition wrote.

Among the coalition’s other national nonprofit organization members are PHI, SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders), the AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association.