Reauthorization of Older Americans Act approved by Senate Committee

The Senate reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (S. 192) advanced another step last week when the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted to approve the legislation.  S. 192 is sponsored by HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).    Among many other things, it includes a fix to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)  which provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, and caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services.   The Arc supports this legislation as it would extend NFCSP eligibility to older caregivers of their adult children (age 19 to 59) with disabilities.  The next step will be consideration by the full Senate.

Older Americans Act Reauthorization Introduced in Senate; Expands Eligibility for Family Support Services

The Senate reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (S. 192) was introduced on January 20 by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Among many other things, it includes a fix to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)  which provides information to caregivers about available services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups, and caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services.   The Arc supports this legislation as it would extend NFCSP eligibility to older caregivers of their adult children (age 19 to 59) with disabilities.

Older American Act Reauthorization to be Marked Up

The Older Americans Reauthorization Act, S. 1562, introduced by Bernie Sanders (VT-I) on September 30 is expected to be marked up in committee this week. While this bipartisan bill is a fairly simple reauthorization, it makes changes to National Family Caregiver Support Program to make it more available to caregivers of persons with disabilities of all ages. The definitional fix would make the program apply to caregivers of persons with disabilities between 18 and 59 years of age, who presently are excluded. The Arc supports this change and will work to secure its enactment.

Senate bill introduced to reauthorize the Older Americans Act

On January 26, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill (S. 2037) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act. Among other things, the Older Americans Act authorizes the National Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) to provide: 1) information to caregivers about available services, 2) assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services, 3) individual counseling, 4) organization of support groups, and caregiver training, 5) respite care, and 6) supplemental services, on a limited basis. Unfortunately, these critically needed services are unavailable to the majority of caregivers of persons with I/DD as caregivers of persons with disabilities who are under the age of 60 are not eligible for the FCSP. Family support needs of persons with I/DD are particularly acute and growing. According to The Arc’s Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) survey, most family caregivers of persons with I/DD provide more than 40 hours of care per week (including 40% who provide more than 80 hours of care per week). In addition, there are over 730,000 aging caregivers of persons with I/DD who require greater assistance in managing their caregiving responsibilities for their adult children. As our society continues to depend on family caregivers, it is essential to meet their needs in order to continue providing care in the community instead of more costly and unwanted institutions. The Arc will work to ensure that caregivers of individuals with disabilities under the age of 60 are eligible for services under the FCSP.