Bonamici Chairs Hearing to Update Older Americans Act
WASHINGTON, DC [05/15/19] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chair of the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee, held the first hearing on reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA).
Bonamici is leading the bipartisan effort to update and reauthorize OAA, which currently serves roughly 11 million older Americans through social services and community-based programs like Meals on Wheels.
The hearing, titled “Examining the Older Americans Act: Promoting Independence and Dignity for Older Americans,” included a witness from Oregon: Lee Girard, Director of the Multnomah County Aging, Disability & Veterans Services Division (ADVSD). Video from the hearing can be found here.
“As the number of older Americans continues to increase, Congress must strengthen our support for OAA’s proven, long-standing programs,” Bonamici said at the hearing. “We must recommit to providing basic services and compassionate care to vulnerable members of our communities.”
Girard answered questions from committee members and shared her experiences as the Director for Multnomah County ADVSD. In her role, Girard has a staff of 465 at 10 community centers and 11 meal sites, reaching over 136,000 people annually. She also serves as the chair for the Oregon Association of Agencies on Aging and on the board of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).
"Americans are living longer than ever, and the need to protect our older adults has never been higher,” Girard said. “The Older Americans Act is critical in defending the independence, dignity, and health of older adults across Oregon the United States. We urge our leaders to reauthorize the Older Americans Act with special consideration of the social and economic needs of today."
“As our members develop, coordinate and deliver Older Americans Act programs and services in communities across the nation, n4a stands ready to work with Chairwoman Bonamici and her colleagues to protect and improve this landmark law, which serves as a vital source of aging services for millions of older adults and their caregivers, helping to promote independence and healthy aging,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).
The hearing on OAA was held during Older Americans Month. Originally enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act supports a wide range of social services and programs for individuals aged 60 years or older, including congregate and home-delivered nutrition services, family caregiver support, community service employment, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older individuals.
Bonamici played a lead role in the last reauthorization of OAA, which took place in 2016.