Prioritize older adults, nonprofits tell members of Congress

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Programs that "prioritize programs to enhance the dignity, health and independence of older adults," such as services provided through the Older Americans Act, should be funded at appropriate levels through an omnibus appropriations bill in fiscal year 2016, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations told the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies in a letter dated Nov. 17.

At a mininum, all Older Americans Act programs should be funded at pre-sequester, fiscal year 2010 levels, said the letter to Chairs Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and ranking members Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). "We also encourage you to refrain from adding riders that could slow down the process," LCAO members wrote.

The LCAO's coalition of national nonprofit organizations includes LeadingAge, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, the American Geriatrics Society, the Gerontological Society of America, the National Council on Aging, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute and several other members. The Older Americans Act "is the backbone of our nation's community supports system," they wrote, but funding to provide ombudsman and other services to those residing in assisted living communities and in other settings has not kept pace with inflation and population growth.

"Without your investment in these initiatives, the valuable services that protect older Americans against hunger, isolation, poor health, neglect, abuse, unemployment and other challenges will fail to reach the aging population in need of these services," the letter concludes.

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