July 01, 2014

Older Americans Act

The ABA urged the House Education and the Workforce Committee to move ahead expeditiously on H.R. 4122, a bill introduced June 13 to reauthorize the Older Americans Act of 1965. “The Older Americans Act authorizes and oversees many vital programs and services, and it provides critical legal assistance to protect the rights of vulnerable seniors,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote in letters sent June 16 to committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.). “We view reauthorization as an important opportunity for Congress to reaffirm and refine our country’s commitment to a safe, secure and dignified life for all older Americans,” Susman wrote. He applauded the bill’s increased focus on combating elder abuse, particularly provisions defining the term “adult protective services” to include legal services. The ABA adopted policy in 2002 and 2010 recognizing the importance of legal assistance under the act. Susman noted that even though the bill does not include all the elements that the ABA supports, such as encouraging development of a coordinated legal services delivery system and strengthening legal developers, he said that the ABA recognizes the legislation “as a critical step forward in ensuring that the rights of older Americans are supported and protected under federal law.” In addition, the association applauded language in the bill focusing on the independence and avoidance of conflicts for long-term care ombudsmen. Last fall, the ABA expressed support for S. 1562, similar Senate legislation that was approved in January by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is pending on the Senate calendar.

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