Sample Law Paper on Older Americans Act

Older Americans Act

Due to concerns of policy makers about the lack of legislation regarding the welfare of the elderly, Congress enacted the Older Americas Act (OAA), in the year 1965. Initially, the Act established authority for funding for development and research initiatives, training of personnel in the area of ageing, social services, and community planning. Additionally, the legislation administered the grant programs aimed at serving the Federal focal point on issues about older individuals of the society. The primary reason behind the law is to look into the needs of persons above the age of 60 years through programs and services that serve their basic needs. The services include;

  • Health Services
  • Family caregiver maintenance
  • Communal and Home delivered meals
  • Job training and other social opportunities
  • Protection from social ills such as elder abuse

Other social and communal services include meals on wheels, transportation, legal services, nutrition programs, community-based services, nursing home assistance and care, and avoidance of hospitalisation. The initiatives thus helped the federal government save on funds that could have otherwise been spent on the same (Binstock 2010). As of 2016, over 15 million older adults in the United States benefited from the program with greater focus by Congress to reach a wider network of persons above the age of 60 in marginalised areas. According to Wacker and Roberto (2013), besides the services, the Act aimed at improving the lives of the elderly about retirement, public service, housing, employment, long/short term care. Additionally, the Acts’ purpose is to improve the ability of the older members of the society to maintain a sense of independence while remaining in their communities and homes. OAA remains the major vehicle for organisations and agencies in delivering an array of services to the elderly and their caregivers (Day 2014).

Beneficiaries of the Act

The sole purpose of the Act is to improve and promote the self-respect, self-esteem, and stateliness of the elderly in the society by offering support and services tailored to maintain and promote their independence and engagement with the society and members of the community. Initially, the Act provided for and laid down the Administration on Ageing commonly known as the AoA. The AoA provided essential services in addition to community-based care provisions. Currently, the AoA is division of the larger DHHS, (Department of Health and Human Services) (Binstock 2010). Distribution of OAA funding is done in 56 state agencies, over two hundred ethnic organisations, two natural Hawaiian bodies, over six hundred agencies, and about twenty thousand localised service providers. Although the legislation or Act focuses on persons above the age of 60, popularly referred to as the “elderly”, it also focuses on individuals with the most economical and social needs, especially the low-income earners or adults in rural and marginalised regions (Altshuler & Schimmel 2010).

However, due to limited funding, the program has faced numerous challenges with the result of several waiting lists of many essential services. The benefits of the program also go to families and are not just restricted to older members of the society such as jobs, caregivers, and health. Under the act, no older adult above the age of 60 can be rejected from accessing the programs and services under the Act, unless it is a discretion from the State or Federal directive which may invoke the Act and impose specific restrictions. According to statistics, the majority of the beneficiaries of the programs and services, are females at 75 percent with males constituting 57 percent of the recipients. On the other hand, African-Americans make up the largest composition of the beneficiaries with a low number of minorities. Additionally, the majority of these beneficiaries lives in rural areas, have less education level, live alone with low income (Binstock 2010).

Benefits of the Act

The OAA provides support and services through seven titles in which American elderly remains productive and independent in their community areas. The Titles, which also make up the overall structure of the Act include;

Title I

Title I entails the declaration of the purpose/objective of the Act. Additionally, Title I establishes the coordinating agency for the services under the Act.

Title II

Title II lays down the Administration on Aging intends to work out the provisions offered and provided for in the Act.

Title III

Under Title III, funding for the programs and states is outlined that provides supportive services that entail home based services, senior center programs, case management, information, and transportation services. Additionally, under Title III, nutrition services, health promotion programs, family caregiver maintenance, and disease prevention programs are offered. At the state level, each state has its framework for distributing and allocating the funds to agencies who in turn deliver the services to the targeted population.

Title IV

Under Title IV, an opportunity is availed that provides objectives of the legislation that may include and not limited to health services in marginalised and rural regions, Information Technology training, civic engagement, in addition to the Native American services. Additionally, it provides for research, training, and demonstration in its various projects offered.

Title V

Title V lays down the programs for engaging low-income elderly citizens in volunteer services and community service engagement such as employment. Additionally, it establishes the SCSEP that stands for Senior Community Service Employment Program. The program provides for supporting part-time services for persons above the age of 55 in the low-income group and has reduced employment perspective.

Title VI

The title covers for funding for services for Native Citizens in addition to finance going to ethnic organisations, nonprofit agencies on behalf of native Hawaiians.

Title VII

Under Title VII, services protecting the rights of the old including Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in addition to ill-treatment program against the elderly. The agency is required to carry out investigations, offer solutions, and bring to an understating nursing service amongst residents and institutionalised populace. The grants under this title aim at safeguarding vulnerable elderly persons in the society.

Funding for the Act

Although the Act has faced many challenges since its inception and adoption, it plays a critical role amongst members of the community with state agencies and tribal grouping acting as its ambassadors. Several factors, including inflation, many older persons, and legislative challenges at the state and federal level. Additionally, the Budget control Act passed in forced cuts and deductions in the NDD (non-defense discretionary spending, that involved OAA services too. The move resulted in reduced funding for senior nutrition and additional services in the financial year of 2013. Under the Bipartisan Budget Act passed in 2013 and 2014, the funding resumed unlike in 2012 (Day 2014). Under Obama’s administration, funding for the program and services increased by $28.4 million addition to over $10 million meant for the Older Americans Act, $14.4 million for the Title III Nutrition services and programs. In the preceding years of 2015 and 2016, funding for the program remained flat because of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (Trebino 2008).

According to Binstock, (2010), due to the cumulative years of underfunding, increased the population of the aged and deficit reduction threatened the sustainability of the program as the dignity, health, and independence of the elderly in America remained at risk. The Leadership in Aging Organization (made up of 72 agencies and nonprofit organisations) argued that if the funding remained the same for an extended period, it would not match the rising population of the aged in the American society (Altshuler & Schimmel 2010). Over the years, they have agitated for a 12 percent increase in funding for the program. The figure below shows funding for the Act in the year 2012.

 

Source: https://advancedreportingfall13.wordpress.com/tag/older-americans-act/

To address issues raised by the coalition of organisations and agencies, Obama made law the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act, S. 192 (Public Law 114 -144) in 2016. The legislation authorized the OAA, for a further three years that aimed at improving the benefits of the older Americans under the OAA and their immediate families (Binstock 2010).

Under the OAA Reauthorization, a National Committee Position was made up which saw an increase in OAA funding with the aim of making up for the three years that saw the funding experience cuts that had resulted from the Federal government not matching up with the inflation in the country. The Reauthorization Act emphasised on additional assistance to the older persons through and by;

Making adjustments in the Acts core programs of OAA – This involved provisions and delivery of meals at the elderly homes, transportation services, and family caregivers that ensured the old were guaranteed economic security and a healthy, active, and vibrant life at their places of residence (Lee et al., 2011).

Strengthen Ombudsman services and protection against arbitrary abuse: – Because of research conducted that revealed that increased violence against the elderly saw an increase in costly services, for example, nursing services. Therefore, beyond the everyday responsibilities of protecting the elderly, changes were enacted that included Medicaid and Medicare.

Promotion of Healthy Living: – promotion of healthy lifestyles was and is maintained through and by fall prevention, and the prevention of chronic diseases through self-management (Altshuler & Schimmel 2010).

Additionally, the National Committee supported initiatives that supported the requirement towards the Bureau of Labor Statistics to readjust and offer improvements to the Experimental Consumer Price Index for the Elderly abbreviated CPI-E. According to the CPI-E, such a measure would improve and strengthen economic security for the older members of the society as they age (Binstock 2010). The figure below shows the overall national aging services network in the country.

The Older Americans Act: 50 Years down the Line

Over the past fifty years, the aged have received services and programs tailored to address their plight on socioeconomic issues, which has further helped them to live decent and healthy lives. Under the Older Americans Act, the services included; job training, abuse prevention, caregiver support, transportation, meal delivery in their places of residence, and home-based care (Trebino 2008). As the nation celebrated the 50 years of uninterrupted service delivery to the elderly, the Acts stakeholders, and participants highlighted on the impacts and far reaching effect the Act has brought in the lives of the elderly citizens (Wacker & Roberto 2013).

Below are some of the highlights of the historical evolution of the Act since its inception (Day 2014).

The Civil Service Retirement Act offered a sequestration scheme for federal employees. The programme covered their benefits and basic needs during and in their old age. The Social Security Act was passed with its focus on old Age Assistance in addition to the Old Age Survivors Insurance that covered the elderly in cases of falls, accidents, illness, and misfortune among others (Binstock 2010). The Railroad Retirement Act passed in 1937 offered pensions for persons who had retired from the railroad as an employee. In 1950, President Truman kicked off the very first National Conference on Aging, backed up by the Federal Security Agency. Due to the decisions of the conference, a social service was appropriated alongside the Social Security Act (Lee et al., 2011).

In 1956, an office of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare was established with its primary role and duties designated in coordinating activities, programs, and services for the elderly. President Eisenhower created the Federal Council under whose responsibility, the office of the Secretary fell (Altshuler & Schimmel 2010). In 1958, it was introduced in Congress, which set off a conference at the White House on the issue of ageing. Through a series of brainstorming between the legislators and White House, the Social Security Administration did away with the age limit of 50 as the age for elderly benefits. In 1961, an amendment was initiated that lowered the retirement age from 65 to 62, setting in motion an increase in benefits and the liberalisation of the retirement test. The Older Americans Act thus signed into law in 1965, which led to the establishment of Administration on Ageing The law was extended for a further two years that additionally made provisions for the Administrations on Aging to research and come up with recommendations on the essential needs of the elderly (Binstock 2010). Additional amendments were introduced in the late 1960’s that added other projects and grandparents into the project. Over the years, new Amendments and adjustments to the Act have been sponsored by Congress with the sole purpose of strengthening the program and services provided to the elderly and making the program more viable in line with the needs of the society. These Amendments include; Improvement and Modernization Act, Medicare Prescription Drug, Lifespan Respite Care Act, Affordable Care Act, in addition to several programs and additional services. The programs include Administration on Aging, Grant to Tribal Organisation, and Nutritional Programs such as home-based food delivery, Health promotion such as educational services, consultation, and counselling. Other programs and services included centres such as Ageing and Disability Resource Centers (for the facilitation and dissemination of availability of resources and learning materials.

 

 

References

Altshuler, N. & Schimmel, J. (2010). Ageing in place: do Older Americans Act Title III services reach those most likely to enter nursing homes?. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Binstock, R. H. (2010). From compassionate ageism to intergenerational conflict?. The Gerontologist50(5), 574-585.

Day, C. L. (2014). What older Americans think: Interest groups and ageing policy. Princeton University Press.

Lee, J. S., Johnson, M. A. & Brown, A. (2011). Older Americans Act nutrition program improves participants’ food security in Georgia. Journal of nutrition in gerontology and geriatrics30(2), 122-139.

Lee, J. S., Sinnett, S., Bengle, R., Johnson, M. A. & Brown, A. (2011). Unmet needs for the Older Americans Act nutrition program. Journal of Applied Gerontology30(5), 587-606.

Trebino, J. S. B. L. (2008). Results from the Administration on Agings Third National Survey of Older Americans Act Program Participants (No. 3e132c0e1fd046e784c4ac011a0af879). Mathematica Policy Research.

Wacker, R. R. & Roberto, K. A. (2013). Community resources for older adults: Programs and services in an era of change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.