GSA Welcomes Older Americans Act Reauthorization

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2020

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging, is applauding the passage of the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 — which reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA), a vital piece of legislation that supports programs and services for approximately 11 million individuals and their caregivers annually.

GSA was a strong advocate for OAA reauthorization; it contributed language to the final bill and worked with other stakeholder organizations on several provisions.

“Achieving a reauthorization of this critical act that reaffirms and protects its mission will ensure the sustainability of vital OAA programs, as well as the health, dignity, and independence of older Americans and their caregivers who depend on these programs,” said GSA CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH, ScD (Hon).

The OAA is essential to developing, coordinating, and delivering home and community-based services that help older adults remain in their homes and communities as they age. Many individuals served by OAA-funded programs are at significant risk of hunger, isolation, abuse, and losing their ability to choose where they want to age. Empowering persons over the age of 60 to stay in their communities, OAA programs have also delayed or prevented the need for more expensive institutional care for many older adults, which is often paid for through Medicare or Medicaid.

The OAA reauthorization includes a number of enhancements that GSA recommended to Congress, which include:

  • Annual increases in the authorized funding levels; specifically, increases for core programs by seven percent in year one and six percent in subsequent years
  • Inclusion of a robust new research and demonstration authority for the Administration on Aging, and the creation of a center focused on promoting and coordinating research and evaluation activities to enhance performance, develop new models, and produce data-driven assessments of the value of the OAA programs.
  • Recognition of the challenges of social isolation and loneliness, which research indicates has a profound impact on the health and well-being of older adults.
  • Expansion of the definition of disease prevention and health promotion services to include screening of an individual’s immunization status; and expansion of evidence-based health promotion programs to include infectious disease and vaccine-preventable disease.
  • Extension of the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council.

In 2019, GSA worked with the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on language to revitalize the OAA’s research, evaluation, and demonstration activities. GSA further collaborated with several partners — the National Council on Aging, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and ADvancing Age — to advocate for the inclusion of increased pilots and demonstration projects that could be developed into scalable, evidence-based programs.

“The stability that a finalized and current OAA reauthorization provides is critical to ensuring that the millions of older adults and caregivers served by the OAA can continue to live with dignity and independence in their homes and communities for as long as possible,” Appleby said.

The OAA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 14, 1965. It was last reauthorized in 2016. GSA and its members have historically supported and been a part of researching, evaluating, and serving as a resource on the OAA and its network of service providers.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational unit, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

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