May 8, 2019
To: n4a Members
From: Sandy Markwood, CEO
RE: ACL Re-Organization and Older Americans
Act Reauthorization Recommendations
It’s been a very busy day for aging policy in Washington, DC. In addition to today’s Senate Aging Committee hearing on Older Americans Act (OAA) (see this morning’s Legislative Update) and the House Appropriations Committee’s passage of increases for OAA program and services (details coming in tomorrow’s Legislative Update), the Trump Administration released two sets of major policy positions.
ACL Re-Organization Plan
A re-organization plan for the Administration for Community Living (ACL) was published in the Federal Register today. The plan renames many of the current divisions within ACL, with some movement of programs from one office to another. Some of the title changes under the Administration on Disability suggest a downgrading (e.g., from Administration to Office), but absent full detail, it is unclear if that is the practical effect.
A re-organization of regional offices is also included that we believe will result in significant changes to regional infrastructure. However, the Federal Register notice is unclear on what the specific changes are, or the impact of those changes. Although n4a has received numerous unofficial communications on this re-organization, it’s important that all the details be shared publicly with stakeholders. We will immediately request that ACL swiftly brief our members in greater detail on what these changes mean for local administration of all ACL programs.
At this level of re-organization, the Administration does not have to ask for permission from Congress. However, there are procedures and traditions that dictate how the Administration informs Congress and the public of such changes. In this instance, the House Appropriations Committee raised concerns regarding the Administration’s re-organization in its FY 2020 Labor/HHS/Education spending bill released today, indicating that Congress should have had more notice of the changes and that it recommends consulting stakeholders on implementation.
The Administration’s OAA Recommendations
This afternoon, Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL Administrator Lance Robertson shared with the Senate Aging Committee the Administration’s official OAA reauthorization proposals. As this morning’s Legislative Update indicated, the bill drafting process is well underway in the Senate, but the Administration’s positions could be considered by Congress if there is support for them. Read his testimony.
n4a supports the Administration’s recommendation to eliminate the 10 percent cap on use of OAA Title III E funds for kinship caregivers. In fact, we’ve already worked closely on a bipartisan bill, S. 1146, introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), that would more modestly increase the cap to 15 percent. We are optimistic that this proposal will make it into the Senate’s OAA reauthorization package that will be released later this month.
Another Administration recommendation is to increase the minimum administrative funding level for state units on aging. Currently, states may use 5 percent or $500,000—whichever is higher—of Title III allocations for administrative expenses. The Administration recommends increasing that minimum to $750,000. Currently, 16 states draw the minimum level of $500,000, so this would mean at least an additional $4.0 million could be redirected from Title III in those affected states for state administrative expenses. An additional 7 states would be affected that currently draw between $500,000 and $750,000 in admin costs.
The final Administration recommendation gives n4a serious pause. The proposal would remove the current OAA provision that grants local governmental entities the right of first refusal should a planning and service area become available (e.g., if a AAA was de-designated or if the state unit reorganized the AAA network, etc.). The provision granting this right of first refusal to local governmental entities has been in the Act since 1984 and reflects the role of local governmental entities in supporting OAA implementation, whether or not they ultimately operate the AAA. n4a is concerned this provision would foster significant disruption among AAA networks—especially in states where some or all of the AAAs are administered through regional, county or city governments.
Be assured that n4a is actively engaging on your behalf on these and many other federal policy fronts in DC, and we will continue to keep you informed and equipped as advocates via our Advocacy Alerts and Legislative Updates.
The good news is that tomorrow’s n4a news will be positive, as our collective advocacy work has generated increases to n4a’s top appropriations priorities in the House’s FY 2020 Labor-HHS spending bill, which will be considered this afternoon! Details about the proposed funding levels will be in tomorrow’s members-only n4a Legislative Update.
Thank you for your support of n4a and for your advocacy.
Make the Ask for FY 2020 Aging Funding
Reach out to your Senators and Representatives!
Appropriations season is well underway in Washington, DC, and Members of Congress have already started the process of determining funding for FY 2020, which is why advocates must connect with federal lawmakers NOW about the importance of increasing funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) and other aging programs.
Additionally, the current two-year budget agreement expires at the end of September, which means that to avoid significant across-the-board cuts in FY 2020, lawmakers must pass a budget agreement that raises overall spending caps. Overriding the Budget Control Act’s caps for FY 2020 to give Congress a larger topline amount for discretionary spending is essential to protecting current funding levels for OAA and to achieving much-needed increases.
Translation: we have a lot of advocacy to do this spring and we need your help! n4a has sent our annual appropriations request letter to Congress, and we’ve also begun requesting meetings with key Hill offices to make the case for investments in Older Americans Act and other vital discretionary programs that help older adults. For the full list of n4a’s requests for FY 2020 funding bills, check out n4a’s 2019 Policy Priorities.
But that’s not enough: we need Congress to hear directly from their constituents.
Why We Need Your Advocacy
Years of stagnant funding and budget cuts have taken their toll on local aging programs. To make strides toward reversing this funding reality, n4a is taking a two-pronged approach on FY 2020 funding:
- Lawmakers must raise overall budget caps in FY 2020 and beyond to ensure there is enough funding available overall to increase OAA programs.
- Appropriators must make bold investments in OAA programs—especially Titles III B (Supportive Services), III E (caregiver support) and Title VI Native American aging programs—to begin to restore the capacity of the local agencies delivering these services that has been lost during years of austerity.
We need all AAAs, Title VI Native American programs and all their local allies to raise their voices in support of Older Americans Act funding. We must ensure that all members of Congress know that stagnant and eroding funding risks the health, well-being and independence of their older constituents.
The good news is, many Members of Congress are already on board with these requests! Last month 130 Members of the House signed on to a Dear Colleague Letter asking for bold increases for critical Title III B and E programs!
Take Action Now
Contact your Representatives and Senators NOW to advocate for funding for OAA programs and services. Use n4a’s April 4 letter to appropriators as a template but customize it to fit your agency. It is important that you take the time to localize what this funding means for the older adults and caregivers in your state and community.
STEP 1: Put Your Requests in Writing! Send a real letter requesting their support. If you can put it on your agency’s letterhead that’s ideal. If not, send it from your Advisory Board or even yourself as a private citizen. Or do all three! Use our template but customize to your agency/community. Send the letter email to their DC and district offices. Find that contact information on your Members’ websites: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
STEP 2: Make Your Support for OAA Funding Public.
- Attend any public events/town halls your Senators and Reps. are hosting during in the next congressional recesses (April 15–26 and then May 27–31) and raise OAA funding during the Q&A!
- Turn your letter to your Member into a letter to the editor or op-ed and submit it to your local newspaper.
- Find out whether any of your agency’s supporters know the Members of Congress serving your community or if they will be seeing them at any events. If so, ask that they put in a good word for OAA funding and its impact in your community.
STEP 3: Invite Your Lawmakers to Visit. Members of Congress will be back in their states and districts April 15–26 (and later, May 27–31) so get on their local calendars NOW and engage them in your May Older Americans Month or other events! Individual site visits are also a great opportunity to educate your elected officials about the critical services you provide to their constituents. All you have to do is ask! (Tip: put the request in writing. Call or email the DC office to ensure your request gets to the Scheduler.)
STEP 4: Engage Your Provider Network. Urge your vendors/providers, advisory board members and other important stakeholders to send their own letters to Congress. Please do all you can to amplify the message and engage others who understand the value of OAA in their community! Stay tuned to n4a’s FY 2020 appropriations campaign page for additional advocacy resources, including an upcoming template advocacy alert that you can use with your grassroots advocates!
Stay tuned for more updates from n4a and thank you for your advocacy on this important issue!
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has again this year circulated a letter to her fellow Representatives requesting their signatures in support of a request to House Appropriations Labor/HHS/Education Subcommittee leaders to increase funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III programs in FY 2020. This year, in this bipartisan effort, she’s joined by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) in rallying their colleagues to support this effort.
This is one of the first advocacy opportunities in the FY 2020 annual appropriations process that determines what next year’s OAA funding will be. This letter will be one of thousands sent to the Appropriations Committee’s leaders asking for particular funding levels for thousands of federal discretionary programs. That’s why we need your support to drive signatures to the OAA letter, so appropriators notice the bipartisan support for these vital programs!
The letter specifically asks for significantly increased funding for OAA Title III B Supportive Services, Title III C Nutrition and Title III E National Family Caregiver Support Program. This approach complements n4a’s FY 2020 OAA appropriations priorities on OAA Title III programs, specifically III B and III E. Implementing the increases recommended in this letter would be an important step to restoring the capacity of the programs lost to stagnant funding and a growing population.
We need you to take action to urge your Representatives to sign on to this letter to ensure that it receives the strong support needed for the Subcommittee to take this request seriously.
Members’ signatures are due by close of business on Monday, March 25, so please do your outreach TODAY!
Call your Representatives and ask them to sign on to the letter circulated by Reps. Bonamici, Stefanik, Deutch and Loebsack on OAA funding. Even if you know enough about your Member’s voting history to understand your request is not an easy one, please do this outreach anyway. It’s vital that all Representatives understand how critical OAA funding is to older adults and caregivers!
STEP 1: Check this list to see if your Representative(s) has already signed on to the letter. If his/her name isn’t on this list…
STEP 2: Call the DC office and ask for the staff member who handles Older Americans Act or appropriations issues. You can reach them through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 or find the number on your Member’s website.
STEP 3: Tell them about the Bipartisan Bonamici OAA Dear Colleague letter and offer to email them a link to the letter if they have not already seen it.
STEP 4: Let them know exactly why you want your Member to sign on to the OAA letter. Give local statistics that demonstrate the need for an increase in OAA funding. If they ask for a staff contact for Rep. Bonamici, tell them to phone Jack Arriaga at 202.225.0855.
The deadline for signatures is MONDAY, MARCH 25.
Ask other advocates to do the same! Urge colleagues, advisory board members, volunteers and clients to make calls to their Representatives, as well. We have a very short window of opportunity, so we need you and your colleagues to act fast on this particular request!
In the coming weeks, n4a will be launching our annual appropriations campaign, with new grassroots tools to help us make the case for OAA, so stay tuned!
Thank you for your advocacy!
2019 Policy Agenda Released
Surrounded by more than 160 n4a members and allies at the 25th annual n4a Aging Policy Briefing and Capitol Hill Day, we released this year’s ambitious policy agenda!
The n4a 2019 Policy Priorities outline the most critical policy considerations facing Area Agencies on Aging and Title VI Native American aging programs—and the Aging Network as a whole. They reflect where we think our collective advocacy is most needed in 2019 to promote the health, security and well-being of older adults in every community in the country. Please join us as we:
- Reauthorize the Older Americans Act by strengthening the aging services and supports that make it possible for older adults to age well and safety at home and in the community. (For details, see our just-released OAA recommendations.)
- Invest in Cost-Effective Aging at Home and in the Community, especially OAA Titles III B Supportive Services, III E National Family Caregiver Support Program and VI Grants for Native Americans.
- Improve Health by Addressing the Social Determinants and recognize the important role that the Aging Network plays in achieving this goal.
n4a members will receive a hard copy in the coming days, but feel free to read the Priorities online now.
P.S. If you weren't able to join us for the 25th anniversary of n4a’s Aging Policy Briefing, chek out the action from the past two days by following @n4aACTION and #n4aAPB on Twitter!
Copyright © 2019, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), All rights reserved.
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