AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was passed in 1965 in response to concern about a lack of community social services for older persons; and

WHEREAS, the original legislation established authority for grants to states for community planning and social services, research and development projects, and personnel training in the field of aging; and

WHEREAS, the law also established the Administration on Aging (AOA) to administer the newly created grant programs and to serve as the federal focal point on matters concerning older persons; and

WHEREAS, although older individuals may receive services under many other federal programs, the OAA is considered to be the major vehicle for the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services to this group and their caregivers; and

WHEREAS, the OAA authorizes a wide array of service programs through a national network of 56 state agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, nearly 20,000 service providers, 244 tribal organizations, and two native Hawaiian organizations representing 400 tribes; and

WHEREAS, the OAA also includes community service employment for low-income older Americans; training, research and demonstration activities in the field of aging; and vulnerable elder rights protection activities; and
Whereas, the OAA has been reauthorized and amended in the past (the last time in 2006); and

WHEREAS, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, on Jan. 26, 2012, introduced a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, with the following statement: "We are at a critical moment. We must give seniors the support they need to stay healthy in their homes and communities"; and

WHEREAS, programs provided through the law are needed now more than ever before as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; and one in five older Americans today survives on an average income of only $7,500 a year, so the need is greater than ever for OAA services such as meals, home-care, help coordinating long-term care, job training and legal services; and

WHEREAS, programs for seniors actually save taxpayer dollars by reducing healthcare expenses. As stated by Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare: "These programs also save federal and state government resources from being spent on sometimes unnecessary and often much more expensive care in hospitals and nursing homes"; and

WHEREAS, under one of the major initiatives in the reauthorization measure, the Bureau of Labor Statistics would be instructed to improve how it calculates inflation for the elderly to more accurately reflect out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare and prescription drugs. A cost-of-living measure tailored to the real-world expenses of seniors could be used to make more accurate annual adjustments in Social Security benefits, for example. The Alliance for Retired Americans said that the provision in Sanders' bill is "vital to the health and economic security of millions of older Americans and their families"; and

WHEREAS, the bill also would clarify the legal definition of "economic security" to encompass the income necessary to pay for housing, healthcare, transportation, food, long-term care and other basic needs. The measure also would streamline and strengthen the meals programs, authorizing a 50 percent boost in funding. The bill would help modernize senior centers by creating a pilot program and community planning grant program. The legislation also devotes more help for seniors looking for jobs. Another significant improvement would be to the long-term care ombudsman program, which protects the rights of people living in nursing homes:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will encourage its members and affiliates to support reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.