Senior Policy

It is hard to fathom the inability of Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) which has been languishing in limbo since 2011.

While the bar of acceptable performance from the members of Congress continues to drop, the general indifference of the voting public is costing the country significantly in both economic and social costs. One of the victims of this apathy is the OAA.


Brief History

The Older Americans Act originally passed in 1965, along with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, led to creating key elder-focused institutions and delivering meaningful set of services to older Americans. The Area Agencies of Aging at the local level, State Agencies and the National Aging Network originated due to this Act.

The OAA provides critical funding that enables providing services such as nutrition programs, home and community-based services, disease prevention and health promotion services to individuals aged 60 and older. An important program added in 2000 provides funds to support family caregivers of older Americans and grandparents raising or babysitting minor children.


Historic photo: Overarching view of the attendees of the first White House Conference on Aging held in 1961.

whcoa-1961 source: White House Conference on Aging


The Current State of OAA

The reauthorization of OAA, known as S. 192: Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, came out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on January 28, 2015.


The bill currently has 13 co-sponsors (listed in no particular order):

US Congress Building Dome   Lamar Alexander (R-TN)   Sponsor US Congress Building Dome   Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
US Congress Building Dome   Richard Burr (R-NC) US Congress Building Dome   Susan Collins (R-ME)
US Congress Building Dome   Chris Coons (D-DE) US Congress Building Dome   Charles Grassley (R-IA)
US Congress Building Dome   Orrin Hatch (R-UT) US Congress Building Dome   John Isakson (R-GA)
US Congress Building Dome   Patrick Leahy (D-VT) US Congress Building Dome   Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
US Congress Building Dome   Patty Murray (D-WA) US Congress Building Dome   Bill Nelson (D-FL)
US Congress Building Dome   Bernard Sanders (I-VT) US Congress Building Dome   Brian Schatz (D-HI)


What’s Next?

Seal of US Senate   The Bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration. It needs to come to the Senate Floor.
Seal of US Senate   Both the House and Senate must pass the identical bill and signed by the President to become the law.


You can track the progress of the bill using the Tracker on the right-side column of this page.

The 2015 White House Conference On Aging (WHCOA). The WHCOA is holding regional forums across the country soliciting input & ideas. The regional forums are co-sponsored by AARP and coordinated with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations.

The Regional Forum in Boston is scheduled on May 28th 2015. Participation is by invitation only but the event will be webcast live.

When: Thursday, May 28, 2015
Participation: By invitation only; event will be webcast live here.


2015 WHCOA Regional Forum

WHCOA Regional Forum.   photo courtesy: WHCOA website


How to get Involved?


1.  Keep Yourself Informed.

If you want to keep yourself up-to-date on WHCOA events and activities, you can subscribe to the mailing list.


2.  Highlight an Issue.

The WHCOA has defined four broad areas that are currently relevant and need to be addressed:

Healthy Aging
Long-term Services & Supports
Elder Justice
Retirement Security


The WHCOA has created a starting point in the form of Policy Briefs for critical review and discussion of these four areas. So far, briefs on Healthy Aging, Long-term Services & Supports, and Elder Justice have been released.

If you are passionate about an issue, have insights and experience that you think are important and that they need to be part of the discussion at the WHCOA, you can do so by submitting your input here.


3.  Share a Story.

If you, as an older adult or caregiver, have an interesting story pertaining to aging, be it about a successful project, a novel program or a unique contribution, WHCOA is looking to highlight such stories. You can submit them at this link.