Shortchanging the Older Americans Act has led to unnecessary nursing home placements, senators say

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Chronic underfunding of the Older Americans Act is leading to unnecessary long-term care facility admissions, Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and 26 of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate said in a recent letter to Appropriations Committee leaders.

The lawmakers requested a 12% increase over fiscal year 2014 funding levels for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs such as Meals on Wheels. These programs help seniors live at home or in community-based settings, and their funding difficulties already have led to unnecessary nursing home placements and hospitalizations related to “poor nutrition and chronic health conditions,” the senators wrote.

A 12% funding increase would still be “insufficient,” considering that OAA funding has failed to keep pace with inflation as well as the increasing need for seniors services, the senators noted. However, it would be seen as a start.

The letter was dated April 3 and addressed to Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). They are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

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