Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced he will introduce a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, a federal law first enacted in 1965 that provides assistance to seniors that enables them to remain independent in their homes and communities.
“With huge numbers of seniors in need, we must redouble our commitment to help seniors live safely and comfortably in their own homes and communities,” said Sanders during a press conference. “This is an investment in our seniors which will pay for itself many times over by reducing health care costs.”
The reauthorization Sen. Sanders envisions includes several improvements to the assistance provided to seniors under the law. One initiative targets the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the way it calculates inflation for older americans. It would be directed to calculate more accurately for out of pocket costs including health care and prescription drug expenses.
Additionally, the bill would strengthen the meals program through a 50% funding increase, would help to modernize senior centers by creating a pilot program and community planning grat program, and would devote more assistance to job-seeking seniors. It also aims to improve the long-term care ombudsman program, which protects the rights of nursing home patients.
Sen. Sanders’ office said the bill was forthcoming upon Congress reconvening in January. Sen. Sanders told Vermont Public Radio he expected the reauthorization to be in excess of $1.5 billion.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker