Monday, November 18, 2019

At the Agency on Aging we’re always advocating for effective policies that support aging at home and in the community. You can help by contacting your legislators and asking them to support older adults by funding legislation and policies that effect health, well-being and independence. Here’s some of the legislation we’re following.

Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the cornerstone of the nation’s home- and community-based service system, which supports older Americans’ ability to live at home and in their communities with dignity and independence as long as possible. The Act expired at the end of September. The US House passed The Dignity in Aging Act (HR 4334) on October 28, to continue the Older Americans Act’s services, but the Senate has yet to support a similar bill.

While we are optimistic about the prospects for OAA reauthorization, there is still a lot of advocacy work to do before we reach the finish line. Stay tuned and continue to educate your Senators and Representatives about the value of OAA programs and services to your community.

Family Caregiver Act

1.5 Million Family caregivers in Illinois provide 1.4 billion hours of unpaid care, totaling $18.5 billion dollars. Supporting family caregivers helps older Illinoisans remain at home longer, delaying costly nursing home care.

The Illinois Family Caregiver Act passed in 2004 established a multi-faceted family caregiver support program to assist unpaid family (informal) caregivers. Unfortunately, the bill was never funded. If it were, it would provide support to caregivers through:

  • Interventions including assistive technology aimed at relieving caregiver stress
  • Temporary substitute support services or living arrangements that provide respite from caregiving tasks
  • Training and education about essential caregiving skills

All the above delay the need for older adults being cared for to need care in an institutional setting. Join us in asking the Illinois Congress to amend the Illinois Family Caregiver Act and provide funding for the following:

  • An evidenced based caregiver assessment that tailors’ interventions for caregivers and provides robust data on the impact of caregiver support programs
  • Equip Area Agencies on Aging and our network of local service provider agencies with financial resources to support and enhance programs that assist family and informal caregivers to continue to provide quality care for their loved ones.

Prescription Drugs

The Lower Drug Costs Now Act (HR 3) and The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (S 2543) are intended to improve access to prescription drugs and make them more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries. Both bills would restructure Medicare’s Part D to eliminate the coverage gap (also known as the doughnut hole), limit enrollees’ total out-of-pocket drug costs, and shift liability away from both enrollees and Medicare.

Improving Medicare

The Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization (BETTER) Act (HR 3417), is intended to simplify the Medicare enrollment process and provide more training and information so that people approaching Medicare enrollment, either based on age or disability, will understand their choices and make well-informed decisions. The bill is currently awaiting committee approval.

Social Security Disability Insurance

The Stop the Wait Act (HR 4836/S 2496) addresses the issue of wait time for people who meet Social Security standards for disability to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Currently this wait time is five months not including a determination period of up to 18 months or longer, after the onset of the disability. Then, the disabled person must wait an additional two years before becoming eligible for Medicare. The Act is currently awaiting action in both the House and the Senate.

Thank you for your advocacy on these important issues.


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