Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced an amendment during the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) mark-up of the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) to fix the funding formula to ensure that funds are fairly and appropriately allocated to the states based on each state’s population of older Americans today. The amendment was defeated by a 7-14 vote.
“The current funding formula for the Older Americans Act is both outdated and unfair,” said Senator Burr. “Allocating funds based on 13-year-old data penalizes states like North Carolina who have fast growing populations of seniors and distorts funding so that these states do not get their fair share. It is time to update this formula to ensure that the dollars flow to where the seniors actually are today. While all of my colleagues conceded that I was right and the formula is in fact broken, a conclusion reached by the GAO three years ago, I was disappointed that they chose to again ignore the issue and do nothing to fix this inequity.
The Older Americans Act provides access to services through a network of state and local communities committed to caring for older Americans to help them remain in their homes and communities, with specific emphasis on those seniors with the greatest social and economic needs. The OAA funding formula generally allocates federal funds to states based on the proportion of older adults in each state. However, the previous reauthorization in 2006 included a “hold harmless” provision that prevents states from falling below their FY06 funding levels, which bases the formula on population numbers from 2000 and therefore does not account for the changes in older adult populations.
The Burr Amendment would strike the “hold harmless” provision and ensure that funding allotments are based on current senior populations.
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