Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation that would strengthen the Older Americans Act by fostering care coordination activities between local service providers and state and federal health care agencies.
The Older Americans Act currently supports a number of health, prevention and wellness programs that help older adults better manage their chronic diseases and improve their quality of life. Despite this focus on health promotion, the Act does not require state and area agencies to include a strategy for care coordination in their regular reports. Including a care coordination provision in the Older Americans Act will help improve health outcomes and help prepare the aging network for their role in linking medical care to community long-term services and support.
"For the past 47 years, the Older Americans Act has provided indispensable services that have improved the lives of millions of older Americans, persons with disabilities, and their families by allowing them to live independently," said Sen. Kerry. "Those services will no longer be available unless Congress funds, renews and updates the program to reflect the challenges seniors face today. This legislation will ensure that older Americans with multiple chronic illnesses are getting the care and services they need from all providers."
The Care Coordination for Older Americans Act of 2012 is endorsed by 18 major advocacy groups, including the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), American Geriatrics Society, American Society on Aging, and National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs.
The Care Coordination for Older Americans Act of 2012 would:
instruct both the State agency and area agencies on aging (AAAs) to promote the development and implementation of a care coordination plan to address the needs of older individuals with multiple chronic illnesses;
include care coordination in the declaration of objectives of the Older Americans Act;
provide a definition of care coordination that includes the coordination of medical and social services;
and add to the functions of the Assistant Secretary for Aging to encourage collaboration and sharing of information between the states, AAAs, Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC's), service providers, health care providers, and medical entities in order to improve care coordination.