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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington DC

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, for the past 47 years, the Older Americans Act, OAA, has provided a wide array of services to improve the lives of older Americans, family caregivers, and persons with disabilities. Through the Act, millions of Americans receive critical home and community-based services including, home-delivered meal programs, transportation, adult day care, legal assistance and health promotion programs. The National Aging Network delivers these vital services to local communities through the Administration on Aging, State Units on Aging, SUAs, and over 600 Area Agencies on Aging, AAAs.

The aging network supports a number of health, prevention and wellness programs for older adults, such as, chronic disease self-management programs, alcohol and substance abuse reduction, smoking cessation, weight loss and control, and health screenings. Despite this focus on health promotion, currently, there is no definition of care coordination included in the Older Americans Act. In fact, the unique coordination needed for an older adult with multiple chronic conditions is absent from the definition of the OAA case manager role.

The inclusion of care coordination in the OAA is necessary to prepare the aging network for their role in linking medical care to community long-term services and supports. The Affordable Care Act is transforming the health care delivery system through medical home demonstration, Accountable Care Organizations, and the Partnership for Patient-Care Transitions. But to be truly successful, these reforms will require the coordination of care between state and federal health care programs and the aging network.

Today, I am introducing the Care Coordination for Older Americans Act, a bill that would integrate care coordination in the long-term services and supports system. My legislation would include a definition of care coordination in the declaration of objectives of the Older Americans Act and would require the aging network to develop and implement a care coordination plan to address the needs of older individuals with multiple chronic illnesses.

I would like to thank a number of aging organizations who have been integral to the development of this legislation and who have endorsed it today, including: Aging Services of California, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Society on Aging, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the Consumer Coalition for Quality Health Care, the Easter Seals, The Gerontological Society of America, LeadingAge, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, n4a, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, the National Association of the Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the National Center on Caregiving, the Family Caregiver Alliance, PHI Quality Care through Quality Jobs, the Social Work Leadership Institute / New York Academy of Medicine, and the University of Illinois College of Nursing Institute for Health Care Innovation. In addition, the National Coalition for Care Coordination was pivotal in their assistance developing a definition of care coordination which adequately addresses the needs of the aging network.

Since being enacted in 1965, the OAA has evolved over time to meet the ever-changing needs of our aging population. As we work to reauthorize this successful program that has allowed millions of seniors to remain independent in their homes and communities, we should incorporate new initiatives that reflect the current challenges facing seniors, such as the lack of care coordination between health programs and community long-term services and supports.

For all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this important legislation and to support its inclusion in the reauthorization of the OAA.

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