S. 192 would amend and reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), which establishes services and protections to Americans above the age of 60. The OAA funds caretaking, nutritional, and health services for older Americans; and for ombudsman programs to protect from abuse or negligence within these services.
The reauthorization passed unanimously in the Senate on July 16, 2015 and now awaits consideration in the House.
About the Older Americans Act:
The OAA details federal grants and programs for the support of older Americans. Its latest version was authorized in 2006 and can be found on the Administration for Community Living (ACL) website. ACL is a collaboration of Department of Health and Human Services organizations devoted to the well-being of older adults and the disabled. Some of the main policies of the OAA include:
- Establishes the Administration on Aging (AoA) as an advocate for older individuals. Within the AoA are offices for caregiver services, nutrition programs, protective services, services for Native Americans, and maladministration prevention programs. The AoA is responsible for carrying out the majority of the OAA.
- Authorizes funds for grants for state or community programs on aging, programs to improve health
independence and longevity, and services for Native Americans.
- Establishes a program to provide older individuals with community service employment opportunities.
- Establishes a program to assist states in funding vulnerable elder rights protection activities.
Reauthorization of the act:
The Older Americans Reauthorization Act of 2015, S. 192, would authorize continued funding until the end of 2018. It includes several amendments to the OAA. The National Council on Aging, a nongovernment organization which endorsed the bill, mentioned two changes in their comments on the bill:
- A guarantee that funding for state or community programs on aging will not be reduced by more than one
percent in a single year.
- The removal of language authorizing a senior transportation study that has already been completed.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 20, 2016.
Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016
(Sec. 3) This bill amends the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA), with respect to the Administration on Aging, to require the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs to collect and analyze best practices related to responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities, and publish a report on them.
The Administration shall have a duty and function to:
provide information and technical assistance to states, area agencies on aging, and service providers, in collaboration with relevant federal agencies, on delivering efficient person-centered transportation services, including across geographic boundaries; identify model programs and provide information and technical assistance to the same entities to support modernization of multipurpose senior centers; and provide technical assistance to and share best practices with states, area agencies on again, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) on how to collaborate and coordinate services with health care entities in order to improve care coordination for individuals with multiple chronic illnesses. The Administration shall also:
develop, when feasible, a consumer-friendly tool to assist older individuals and their families in choosing home and community-based long-term care services, with a particular focus on ways for consumers to assess how providers protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of older individuals; and ensure that programs authorized under the OAA include training in the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and provision of services that address elder justice and exploitation of older individuals. ADRCs shall provide information and referrals regarding available home and community-based services for individuals who are at risk for residing in, or who reside in, institutional settings, so that the individuals have the choice to remain in or to return to the community.
The bill repeals the permanent authorization of appropriations to the Administration for the provision of consultative services, technical assistance to public or nonprofit private agencies and organizations, short-term training, technical instruction, and research and demonstrations.
The bill also:
reauthorizes the Administration generally through FY2019, including the National Eldercare Locator Service and pension counseling and information programs; and authorizes through FY2019 Elder Rights Support Activities and ADRCs. (Sec. 4) The bill reauthorizes through FY2019: (1) specified supportive services, (2) congregate nutrition services, (3) home delivered nutrition services, (4) disease prevention and heath promotion services, (5) family caregiver support, and (6) the Nutrition Services Incentive Program.
No state shall be allotted less than: (1) 99% of the allotment for the previous year for each of FY2017-FY2019; or (2) 100% of the FY2019 allotment for FY2020 and each subsequent fiscal year.
An area agency on aging plan shall: (1) support modernization of multipurpose senior centers (including a plan to use the skills and services of older individuals in paid and unpaid work, including multigenerational and older individual to older individual work); and (2) arrange to increase public awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and remove barriers to education, prevention, investigation, and treatment of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
The Administration shall make grants to states for supportive services that include chronic condition self-care management and falls prevention services. Health screening services shall include: (1) behavioral health screening and falls prevention screening; as well as (2) screening for elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
State nutritional projects shall: (1) encourage the use of locally grown foods in meal preparations, and (2) identify potential partnerships and contracts with local producers and providers of locally grown foods.
All disease prevention and health promotion services grants must be evidence-based.
The bill modifies National Family Caregiver Support Program elements, making permanent the funding for the caregiver allotment.
(Sec. 5) The Administration may make grants for continuing support for program integrity initiatives concerning the Medicare program that train senior volunteers to prevent and identify health care fraud and abuse.
The bill reauthorizes for FY2017-FY2019 aging network support activities.
The annual national meeting to train directors of Indian aging programs shall be replaced by national trainings for such directors.
The restriction to national nonprofit organizations of certain grants is repealed, and eligibility for legal assistance for older Americans grants shall extend to any nonprofit organization experienced in providing nationwide support and technical assistance to entities interested in the legal rights of older individuals.
The bill repeals authorities for grants for:
multidisciplinary centers of gerontology and related multidisciplinary systems; computer training and enhanced Internet access for older individuals; and cooperative projects between a state long-term care ombudsman program, legal assistance agencies, and the state protection and advocacy systems for individuals with developmental disabilities and individuals with mental illness. (Sec. 6) The Community Service Senior Opportunities Act (CSSOA) is revised, among other changes, to require grantees carrying out Older American community service employment program demonstration projects to consult with the local workforce development board.
A state may develop a combined state plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in lieu of a plan under the CSSOA.
The bill revises:
requirements for any agreement between grantees and the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) on expected levels of performance for the third and fourth program years of CSSOA projects, as well as the factors taken into account in reaching agreement and adjustments to levels based on economic conditions and individuals served; and the core indicators of performance, especially regarding project participants in unsubsidized employment. Annual publication of performance reviews shall be eliminated.
The OAA is amended to reauthorize community service senior opportunities programs through FY2019.
Appropriations for any fiscal year shall be available for federal obligation from April 1 (currently, July 1) of the calendar year immediately following the beginning of such fiscal year through June 30 of the following calendar year; but amounts obligated to grantees shall continue to be available only from July 1 through June 30.
(Sec. 7) The bill reauthorizes through FY2019 grants for the delivery of supportive services, including nutrition services, to older American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
(Sec. 8) The bill reauthorizes through FY2019 the ombudsman program, funding for state agencies on aging, healthcare service in rural areas, computer training, civic engagement, and Native American programs, and prevention of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
The authorization for the Legal Assistance Development Program is repealed.
The bill extends a State Long-Term Care Ombudsman's responsibility to any resident of a long-term care facility regardless of age.
An Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman shall be responsible for its management, including fiscal management.
A State Long-Term Care Ombudsman shall:
continue to carry out certain functions, when feasible, on behalf of residents transitioning from a long-term care facility to a home care setting; and identify, investigate, and resolve complaints of any residents of a long-term care facility, including residents with limited or no decisionmaking capacity and who have no known legal representative, taking specified actions with respect to residents unable to communicate consent. A state shall ensure that the access of Office representatives to long-term care facilities and residents be private and unimpeded, as well as appropriate to review all files, records, and other information concerning a resident, not just the medical and social records.
The Ombudsman and an Office representative shall be considered a "health oversight agency" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), so that release to the Ombudsman or representative of residents' individually identifiable health information shall not be precluded in cases in which specified requirements are otherwise met.
The bill revises conflict of interest requirements for an Ombudsman and any situation in a state organization in which the Office is placed, including procedures for identifying, removing, and remedying any organizational conflict.
A state agency on aging shall: (1) promote the submission of data on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation for appropriate Administration or other designated databases; and (2) support and study innovative practices in communities to develop elder justice partnerships across disciplines for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
(Sec. 9) Behavioral health shall be included in programs for mental health.
(Sec. 10) The Administration shall issue guidance to states on serving Holocaust survivors.