Older Americans Act
As the population of older adults continues to grow, programs that keep seniors healthy, active, and engaged in their communities are even more important.
The Older Americans Act (OAA) is a cornerstone of our nation’s commitment to seniors. In 2016, I helped pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the OAA. This law will support programs like Meals on Wheels for the next three years, and it will also provide additional resources. The OAA strengthens protections against elder abuse, improves nutrition services, and updates the Family Caregiver Support Program. Increasing investments in programs that support older adults helps them stay in their homes where they can remain connected to their communities and avoid costlier long-term care.
For the millions of Americans without retirement savings, the future can be uncertain. In the 21st century economy, more workers switch jobs frequently and they are less likely to be covered by a traditional employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.
Oregon is a national leader in helping workers save for retirement and transfer their retirement savings from job to job. I’ve introduced the American Savings Account Act to provide American workers with a new tool to help them save for a strong and secure retirement. Modeled after similar programs in Oregon and California, the legislation would provide every American worker with access to a personal, pre-tax retirement savings plan. Senator Merkley introduced the Senate version of the Act, which is designed to help working families around the country be more secure in their retirement by giving them the tools necessary to invest in their future regardless of where they work.
Social Security and Medicare
Social Security and Medicare are essential programs that provide financial security and allow older adults to age with dignity. Economic challenges are not an excuse to dismantle, privatize, or compromise these critical programs. The Social Security trust fund is solvent, and we must keep our promise to seniors by making sure it remains that way. There are sensible reforms that can be made to strengthen these programs while protecting and preserving Medicare and Social Security for current and future recipients. For example, I support raising the limit on income that is taxed for Social Security. I have cosponsored the Social Security 2100 Act, which would require our country’s highest wage earners—those making more than $400,000 per year—to contribute more to the program.
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to Social Security payments are essential for making sure that beneficiaries can live their lives without the risk of falling into poverty. In the past few years, however, COLAs have been relatively small. In 2016, there was no increase in payments. I understand how difficult it can be to pay for prescription medications, housing, and other expenses when Social Security payments don’t keep pace with rising costs. I support tying future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the elderly (CPI-E), an index that more accurately measures the expenses of older adults.
Rising prescription drug costs are a burden for many Americans, particularly seniors. We have made some progress with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which made prescription drug coverage more affordable for many by reducing the gap in Medicare Part D known as the “donut hole.” However, more must be done to keep up with increasing costs. I have cosponsored the Prescription Drug Affordability Act, legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and provide better prescription drug coverage. I will continue working to make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable.
More on Seniors
Time is running out to make long-overdue investments in our country’s growing community of LGBTQ+ elders, who have spent their lives breaking barriers and blazing the path toward equality for the generations who follow. In our roles as a member of Congress who is passionate about addressing the needs of older LGBTQ+ Americans, and as the CEO of the nation's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older people, we know this moment is a rare opportunity.
Workforce training programs and Pell Grants need to be robustly funded in President Joe Biden‘s broad $3.5 trillion spending package, Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee said Thursday as they debated the panel’s portion of the tax and spending bill. Representative Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon said she feared Senate Democrats would “significantly decrease” an $80 billion increase to workforce development in the bill and urged them to match that amount.
Home care workers and consumers shared their daily lives with members of Congress to urge them to support a $400 billion investment in care that would make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to get the care they need, and create good, union jobs for care workers. In Oregon, SEIU 503 members Gloria Arroyo Martínez and José Arroyo welcomed Rep. Suzanne Bonamici as they spent a day caring for their 31-year-old son Oscar. "Families like ours rely on care. That's why I'm asking you to fight for good union home care jobs," said Gloria.
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici joined Meals on Wheels in Southwest Portland Thursday to deliver food to those in need. KATU News spoke with Rep. Bonamici, who thanked all Meals on Wheels volunteers for their diligence throughout the pandemic. "Especially during the pandemic, where social isolation was such an issue and concern among seniors who are home-bound. It was so important to have, not only the meal delivered, but someone to check in on the person and have a conversation and provide that interaction," said Bonamici.
“My home state of Oregon has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the country, and I have heard from many workers, particularly those in the technology industry, who believe they have been dismissed or denied employment because of their age,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, said in comments on the House floor Wednesday. Bonamici was among those who introduced the legislation.
Oregon seniors will soon receive more than $18 million of additional support thanks to funding in the American Rescue Plan and a push by Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. Bonamici said the financial support is a new round of aid to help address the growing needs of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing funding for meals, vaccination efforts, caregivers, long term care ombuds support, and more programs under the Older Americans Act (OAA).
“It will help the senior citizen in Seaside who needs a vaccine but doesn't have access to the internet," Bonamici said in a statement. "It will help the new mom and her husband, both paramedics, who don’t have access to paid family leave and can’t afford child care. It will help restaurants like a beloved Portland eatery that has been shut down for months but could finally reopen thanks to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It will help school leaders in districts big and small who want to bring students back to classrooms but don't have the funding to do so safely.
“Many seniors remain isolated, leading to dramatic increases in the demand for services and creating concern among providers who report they may soon run out of initial COVID relief funding,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), who chairs the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Older Americans Act, said in an emailed statement.