Macro shot of bundles of new $100 bills on US flag. Selective focus on the money.
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A proposed nationwide grant program aims to give states up to $32.5 million collectively to develop master plans for aging to support the “massive demographic shift” that will, for the first time, see the population of older adults surpass that of younger age groups. The effort has the backing of one senior living and care advocacy group.

US Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), chairman of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a committee member, on Wednesday introduced the Strategic Plan for Aging Act to create a program under the Older Americans Act to incentivize the creation of the state plans also known as multi-sector plans for aging. The senators called the legislation a “landmark bill.”

“After fighting in our wars, teaching our children and building our nation, older Americans deserve to age with dignity,” Casey said in a statement, adding that the act would give states the resources necessary to plan for the future to “ensure that no older Americans are left behind.”

States, territories and tribes would be eligible to apply for the grants from the US Department of Health and Human Services and would have to finalize and begin implementing their plans within two years; the plans should cover a 10-year period. The act would provide for up to a total of 65 grants of up to $500,000 each over five years.

State plans also would require collaboration among the state, local, nonprofit and private sectors, with involvement from the areas of healthcare, housing, transportation, consumer affairs, employment, social connection and income security.

“With alignment at the federal and state level, we can use master plans for aging to remake the aging experience through support programs that are more effective, efficient and impactful,” Master Plan for Aging Chair and Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health’s Office of Aging and Long-term Care Adam Herbst said in a statement.

Gillibrand said the act would help states provide resources and solutions to help older adults navigate housing, food insecurity, skyrocketing healthcare costs, insufficient retirement savings and elder abuse. 

“More than 57 million Americans are aged 65 years and older, and that number will continue to rise in the coming years,” Gillibrand said. “It is absolutely essential that Congress leads the effort to invest in the well-being of our elder loved ones.”

The nation is experiencing a “massive demographic shift” that brings opportunity and implications for which the nation is not yet prepared, according to Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, which backs the bill.

“The Strategic Plan for Aging Act addresses the urgent need for states to develop smart, integrated approaches to ensure that tomorrow’s older adults — in all their growing diversity — age equitably with health, independence and safety,” Sloan said in a statement.

Casey and Gillibrand said that at least 24 states are implementing, developing or initiating comprehensive plans to address the needs of older adults: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Washington. 

The act is endorsed by ADvancing States, the Healthcare Association of New York State, Justice in Aging, the Long-Term Quality Alliance and LGBTQ+ elder advocacy group SAGE, among numerous other groups.