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Blog2019-11-06T16:57:30-04:00
1404, 2022

Aging, Health & Care: A New Resource for Seniors and Their Families

By |April 14th, 2022|Meals on Wheels, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Prices, Retirement, senior nutrition|

Classic movie star Mae West famously said, “Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart.” Most older people probably know what she means. Of course, aging can also be a rewarding time of pursuing hobbies and interests, travel and discovery, and enjoying grandchildren, among other things. But the “not for the faint of heart” part rings particularly true when it comes to participating in our senior health care system.

Unlike many other Western nations, most older Americans are confronted by a byzantine network of programs that aren’t always easy to navigate (including Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, private insurance, and more.) And then there are the coverage gaps where we expect seniors – or their families – to shoulder an outsize portion of the added financial costs.  This can include things like medical co-pays, adult day care, dental care or eyeglasses. How many spouses and families are prepared to handle caregiving duties or pay these expenses? It can be overwhelming.

Many people are also unaware that traditional Medicare does not cover routine hearing, dental, and vision care.  That can come as a shock, especially when a senior needs a new pair of eyeglasses, hearing aids, or a dental implant. Even the average cost of frames and lenses ($350) can be a strain on seniors’ finances, let alone more than $2,000 for hearing aids or dental surgery.

Understanding how our system of aging services works, what your financially responsibilities are, where to access help, and what you need to know is critical to a smoother landing in the aging zone. For instance, if you miss a Medicare enrollment deadline, you could end up paying higher premiums. If a senior can’t drive but needs to get to a doctor’s appointment, is there help for that?  What if an older loved one is not getting proper nutrition – or doesn’t seem to be hearing as well as they used to? There are so many situations that may need attention.  But where to turn? And, more importantly, how to pay for it if the senior is living on a fixed income?

Planning and preparation are key. As we age, we need to be knowledgeable about health and care services and programs before something goes wrong.  That’s why, along with advocating full-time for Medicare and Medicaid expansion, we have created a resource section on our website where older adults and their families can learn crucial information – and find suggestions for help. The resource is called Aging, Health, and Care:  What You Need to Know.

The resource is organized into topics for easy browsing, so visitors can dive into whichever section is most relevant to them. Some of the most popular topics include:

Medicare

Nutrition

Prescription Drugs

Vision Care

Dental Care

Hearing Care

Long-term Care

Caregiving

Visitors to this site will find consumer-friendly information and articles, about these and other topics.  Seniors and family members with questions like…

“How much am I going to have to pay for health care? What if I have to stop driving? If I need long-term care, what are my options? How can I avoid being a burden to my children, who have struggles and challenges of their own?”

… can take the first steps toward gaining useful knowledge, in order to be as prepared as possible when they need it.  Visitors can also sign a petition to Congress demanding Medicare coverage for dental and hearing care. Simply put, Aging, Health and Care: What You Need to Know is a great first stop on the road to learning – and self-empowerment – for older Americans.


404, 2022

SSA Commissioner Says Field Offices to Re-Open April 7th

By |April 4th, 2022|Social Security, Social Security Administration (SSA)|

After being closed for most of the pandemic, Social Security field offices are set to re-open on April 7th, announced Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi this morning. Below is her statement released by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Updates to follow.

“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022.

To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.

Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms. We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.

Thoughtful planning and preparation have shaped our process to restore in-person services. Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, and we are ready to welcome the public back to our offices. Our local managers understand and can address the needs of their communities. We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public. We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and national advocate organizations for your help.

Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone. People who have access to the internet should first try our online services before calling us or visiting an office.

As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.”

To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/gethelp/ and www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/.


104, 2022

$35 Insulin Cap Would Save Seniors Money, But Leave Drug Prices Untouched

By |April 1st, 2022|Democrats, Medicare, Part D, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden|

The U.S. House took a big step toward saving seniors money on a life-saving drug. On Thursday, lawmakers voted to enact a $35 cap on the cost of insulin for “most Americans who depend on it,” according to the New York Times.  Some 25 percent of Americans 65 and older have diabetes, or about 12 million seniors. The World Health Organization projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare voiced support for the House bill, while at the same time urging action on more comprehensive prescription drug price reform.

“This legislation has the potential to save diabetics who are risking their lives by rationing insulin — and bring financial relief to everyone taking insulin but struggling to get by every month. While this bill will undoubtedly help consumers, it does not address the actual price of insulin or other outrageously overpriced medications.” – Max Richtman

There is little doubt that Americans urgently need relief from the soaring price of insulin, which can range in cost from $300 – $1,000 a month. We have heard many disturbing stories about patients who ration insulin because they can’t afford it, some of whom have died as a result. Others must choose between paying for insulin and other basic living expenses.

The House action comes after the stalling of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with Big Pharma. This remains the single most effective solution to out-of-control drug costs. The $35 insulin cap does not change the price of insulin, only the out-of-pocket cost to patients.

Some 25% of seniors (65+) have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control

Given the political realities on Capitol Hill, House Democrats enacted what they could for the time being.  As Politico reports, the insulin cap is “a policy Democrats hope will give them a concrete win to campaign on when they face voters in November as the rest of their health care agenda remains stymied.”

“At the end of the day, I hope that we can still bring forward a… bill with additional reforms this year. I know we need to do Medicare drug price negotiation… But we can’t wait any longer to act on insulin.” – Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) in Politico, 3/31/22

Seniors’ advocates agree that Democrats must continue to attempt bolder action:

“Congress still must pass comprehensive drug pricing reform as soon as possible. That reform should empower Medicare to negotiate prices with drug makers, just like the VA does. Only then will consumers not only get much-needed price relief, but the Medicare program likely would save billions of dollars that could be used to expand benefits for seniors.” – Max Richtman

The House bill moves to the Senate, where the National Committee hopes it will be enhanced to include a mechanism to actually lower insulin prices.  Says NCPSSM President Max Richtman, “We welcome any meaningful steps toward the broader goal of prescription drug pricing reform.”


2803, 2022

What Does the President’s Budget Mean for Seniors?

By |March 28th, 2022|Boost Social Security, Budget, Congress, COVID, Democrats, Long term care, Medicare, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden, Social Security, Social Security Administration (SSA), Uncategorized|

There’s encouraging news for seniors in President Biden’s FY2023 budget, even though it does not contain everything that advocates for older Americans had hoped.  The budget, which now will be submitted to Congress, includes crucial funding for services that seniors rely upon – from the operation of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act.

“Like President Biden’s previous budget, this one presents a stark contrast with the spending priorities of the Trump administration, which demonstrated indifference, if not antipathy, to seniors’ needs.  A budget is a moral document, and this one has at its moral core the protection of our nation’s most vulnerable groups at a perilous time in history.” – Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare   

The budget document addresses a major issue for seniors:  the soaring price of prescription drugs. It says that the President “supports legislation that cuts costs for prescription drugs.” The budget includes a “reserve fund to account for future legislation, preserving the revenue from proposed tax and prescription drug reforms for the investments needed to bring down costs for American families.”  The National Committee hopes that any meaningful prescription drug reform includes allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with Big Pharma.

There is good news for Social Security beneficiaries in the White House budget. The FY2023 spending proposal includes $14.8 billion (an increase of 14% above the 2021 enacted level) for SSA operations, which have been strained by the pandemic and more than a decade of GOP-forced spending cuts.  Any increase in SSA funding is likely to help relieve customer service bottlenecks – including long wait times on hold when calling the 800 number and interminable waiting periods for disability hearings.  A more robust operating budget should also help ease the reopening of SSA field offices shuttered during the pandemic.

Older Americans Act (OAA) nutrition programs fare well under the President’s budget, which proposes an increase of $306 million over FY2022 levels. (President Trump’s budgets consistently called for zeroing-out federal grants that support some critical OAA programs.)

The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of allowing people to stay in their own homes instead of a nursing home, where they are much safer from infections and where most people prefer to be. The National Committee supports the Biden budget’s investment in Home and Community-based Supportive Services (HCBS). The budget includes $500 million in funding to bolster HCBS under the Older Americans Act, an increase of $135 million.  In addition, the budget provides $266 million (an increase of $61 million above FY 2022 enacted) for the Family Caregivers and Native American Caregiver Support programs.

The President’s budget would establish a 20 percent minimum tax rate on all American households worth more than $100 million, the first tax plan from Biden to target billionaires.  The budget, however, did not address a similar proposal pending in the U.S. House that asks the wealthy to pay their fair share in Social Security payroll taxes. In fact, the budget did not address the overall issue of benefit adequacy or trust fund solvency for either Social Security or Medicare – two issues that are very important to American seniors.

“While we appreciate many aspects of the President’s FY2023 budget proposal, we had hoped that it would reflect efforts by Democrats in Congress to boost Social Security, including a much-needed increase in benefits and an adjustment of the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share into the system.” – Max Richtman  

Overall, the National Committee applauds the Administration’s budget proposal and urges Congress to give it careful consideration in formulating its own appropriations legislation for FY 2023.


2203, 2022

Federal Senior Nutrition Programs Turn 50. Let’s Keep Them Fortified.

By |March 22nd, 2022|Congress, Meals on Wheels, Older Americans, Older Americans Act|

The federal law providing seniors with nutritional services turns half a century old today.  In 1972, the Congregate Meals program was added to the Older Americans Act (OAA) providing seniors in need with food in community settings. Six years later, Congress amended the OAA again to include home delivered meals for older Americans. Meals on Wheels is probably the best-known recipient of federal funding under this part of the law.

Though the nutrition provisions were added to the OAA during the Nixon administration, they represent a widening of President Lyndon Johnson’s original vision of a Great Society that takes care of its most vulnerable citizens, including and especially seniors.  Nutrition was a natural bookend for a new era of health care for the elderly that began with Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act – all of which were signed into law by President Johnson in 1965.

 “A Great Society doesn’t let its most vulnerable citizens live in poverty or go hungry.  Adding a nutrition program to LBJ’s vision of the Older Americans Act was a compassionate step to make the program more fully serve the needs of seniors.” – Dan Adcock, Director of Government Relations and Policy, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 

There are two types of nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act – congregate meals and home-delivered meals, both designed to supply lower-income seniors with hot, healthy food on a regular basis.

 Congregate Meals 

The Congregate Meals program encourages seniors to get out of the house, socialize with other people, and eat at least one nutritious meal a day in a community setting.  Many congregate meal centers were forced to closed because of the pandemic. But they are slowly beginning to reopen.

Home-Delivered Meals often provide seniors who can’t easily leave their homes with nutrition and social contact they wouldn’t otherwise have.  Since it wasn’t safe for many seniors to leave their homes during the pandemic, the need for home delivered meals became even more apparent.  That’s why the home-delivered meals program needs to have the capacity to scale-up to handle future emergencies.  

Social Interaction 

Both nutrition programs present an opportunity for seniors who may otherwise be isolated to get some much-needed social interaction. Whether it’s a Meals on Wheels volunteer coming to the home and providing company or seniors sitting together enjoying a congregate meal, nutrition programs are a great antidote for lack of social stimulation.  

Health Consequences 

Seniors who eat regular, healthy meals are generally healthier than older people who don’t get proper nutrition. On the other hand, seniors face serious health consequences from not having proper access to nutritious meals – known as “food insecurity.”

“Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss contribute to progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilization of health care services, premature institutionalization, and increased mortality.” – National Center for Biotechnology Information  

More Work to Be Done 

Despite fifty years of effort by governments and NGO’s, there is more work to be done in the area of senior nutrition.  According to a 2019 study by Baylor University, 7% of Americans age 60 and over are food insecure, and 2.6% have very low food security.  In fact, the number of seniors with very low food security has soared by over 200% since 2001.  (The study was conducted before the pandemic, during which the numbers may have increased.)

Food insecurity among seniors, like many other metrics, is worse for the poor, racial minorities, younger seniors (60-69), and people who rent their homes.

Over the past 20 years or so, funding for OAA nutrition programs failed to keep pace with the growth of the senior population and other demographic changes.  (10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.)  Eligible seniors have faced waiting periods for many OAA services, including home delivered meals, in most states.

Fortunately, for Fiscal Year 2020, total OAA funding, including supplemental funding to respond to the needs of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, reached its highest level ($3.220 billion) in the Act’s five-decade history. This trend continued into Fiscal Year 2021 with an increase of $96 million.  While it took a pandemic to finally provide adequate funding for the Older Americans Act, the National Committee and other seniors’ advocates hope that Congress will give senior nutrition programs the attention they need – and deserve.


Aging, Health & Care: A New Resource for Seniors and Their Families

By |April 14th, 2022|Meals on Wheels, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Prices, Retirement, senior nutrition|

Classic movie star Mae West famously said, “Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart.” Most older people probably know what she means. Of course, aging can also be a rewarding time of pursuing hobbies and interests, travel and discovery, and enjoying grandchildren, among other things. But the “not for the faint of heart” part rings particularly true when it comes to participating in our senior health care system.

Unlike many other Western nations, most older Americans are confronted by a byzantine network of programs that aren’t always easy to navigate (including Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, private insurance, and more.) And then there are the coverage gaps where we expect seniors – or their families – to shoulder an outsize portion of the added financial costs.  This can include things like medical co-pays, adult day care, dental care or eyeglasses. How many spouses and families are prepared to handle caregiving duties or pay these expenses? It can be overwhelming.

Many people are also unaware that traditional Medicare does not cover routine hearing, dental, and vision care.  That can come as a shock, especially when a senior needs a new pair of eyeglasses, hearing aids, or a dental implant. Even the average cost of frames and lenses ($350) can be a strain on seniors’ finances, let alone more than $2,000 for hearing aids or dental surgery.

Understanding how our system of aging services works, what your financially responsibilities are, where to access help, and what you need to know is critical to a smoother landing in the aging zone. For instance, if you miss a Medicare enrollment deadline, you could end up paying higher premiums. If a senior can’t drive but needs to get to a doctor’s appointment, is there help for that?  What if an older loved one is not getting proper nutrition – or doesn’t seem to be hearing as well as they used to? There are so many situations that may need attention.  But where to turn? And, more importantly, how to pay for it if the senior is living on a fixed income?

Planning and preparation are key. As we age, we need to be knowledgeable about health and care services and programs before something goes wrong.  That’s why, along with advocating full-time for Medicare and Medicaid expansion, we have created a resource section on our website where older adults and their families can learn crucial information – and find suggestions for help. The resource is called Aging, Health, and Care:  What You Need to Know.

The resource is organized into topics for easy browsing, so visitors can dive into whichever section is most relevant to them. Some of the most popular topics include:

Medicare

Nutrition

Prescription Drugs

Vision Care

Dental Care

Hearing Care

Long-term Care

Caregiving

Visitors to this site will find consumer-friendly information and articles, about these and other topics.  Seniors and family members with questions like…

“How much am I going to have to pay for health care? What if I have to stop driving? If I need long-term care, what are my options? How can I avoid being a burden to my children, who have struggles and challenges of their own?”

… can take the first steps toward gaining useful knowledge, in order to be as prepared as possible when they need it.  Visitors can also sign a petition to Congress demanding Medicare coverage for dental and hearing care. Simply put, Aging, Health and Care: What You Need to Know is a great first stop on the road to learning – and self-empowerment – for older Americans.


SSA Commissioner Says Field Offices to Re-Open April 7th

By |April 4th, 2022|Social Security, Social Security Administration (SSA)|

After being closed for most of the pandemic, Social Security field offices are set to re-open on April 7th, announced Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi this morning. Below is her statement released by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Updates to follow.

“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022.

To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.

Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms. We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.

Thoughtful planning and preparation have shaped our process to restore in-person services. Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, and we are ready to welcome the public back to our offices. Our local managers understand and can address the needs of their communities. We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public. We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and national advocate organizations for your help.

Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone. People who have access to the internet should first try our online services before calling us or visiting an office.

As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.”

To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/gethelp/ and www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/.


$35 Insulin Cap Would Save Seniors Money, But Leave Drug Prices Untouched

By |April 1st, 2022|Democrats, Medicare, Part D, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden|

The U.S. House took a big step toward saving seniors money on a life-saving drug. On Thursday, lawmakers voted to enact a $35 cap on the cost of insulin for “most Americans who depend on it,” according to the New York Times.  Some 25 percent of Americans 65 and older have diabetes, or about 12 million seniors. The World Health Organization projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare voiced support for the House bill, while at the same time urging action on more comprehensive prescription drug price reform.

“This legislation has the potential to save diabetics who are risking their lives by rationing insulin — and bring financial relief to everyone taking insulin but struggling to get by every month. While this bill will undoubtedly help consumers, it does not address the actual price of insulin or other outrageously overpriced medications.” – Max Richtman

There is little doubt that Americans urgently need relief from the soaring price of insulin, which can range in cost from $300 – $1,000 a month. We have heard many disturbing stories about patients who ration insulin because they can’t afford it, some of whom have died as a result. Others must choose between paying for insulin and other basic living expenses.

The House action comes after the stalling of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with Big Pharma. This remains the single most effective solution to out-of-control drug costs. The $35 insulin cap does not change the price of insulin, only the out-of-pocket cost to patients.

Some 25% of seniors (65+) have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control

Given the political realities on Capitol Hill, House Democrats enacted what they could for the time being.  As Politico reports, the insulin cap is “a policy Democrats hope will give them a concrete win to campaign on when they face voters in November as the rest of their health care agenda remains stymied.”

“At the end of the day, I hope that we can still bring forward a… bill with additional reforms this year. I know we need to do Medicare drug price negotiation… But we can’t wait any longer to act on insulin.” – Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) in Politico, 3/31/22

Seniors’ advocates agree that Democrats must continue to attempt bolder action:

“Congress still must pass comprehensive drug pricing reform as soon as possible. That reform should empower Medicare to negotiate prices with drug makers, just like the VA does. Only then will consumers not only get much-needed price relief, but the Medicare program likely would save billions of dollars that could be used to expand benefits for seniors.” – Max Richtman

The House bill moves to the Senate, where the National Committee hopes it will be enhanced to include a mechanism to actually lower insulin prices.  Says NCPSSM President Max Richtman, “We welcome any meaningful steps toward the broader goal of prescription drug pricing reform.”


What Does the President’s Budget Mean for Seniors?

By |March 28th, 2022|Boost Social Security, Budget, Congress, COVID, Democrats, Long term care, Medicare, Prescription Drug Prices, President Biden, Social Security, Social Security Administration (SSA), Uncategorized|

There’s encouraging news for seniors in President Biden’s FY2023 budget, even though it does not contain everything that advocates for older Americans had hoped.  The budget, which now will be submitted to Congress, includes crucial funding for services that seniors rely upon – from the operation of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act.

“Like President Biden’s previous budget, this one presents a stark contrast with the spending priorities of the Trump administration, which demonstrated indifference, if not antipathy, to seniors’ needs.  A budget is a moral document, and this one has at its moral core the protection of our nation’s most vulnerable groups at a perilous time in history.” – Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare   

The budget document addresses a major issue for seniors:  the soaring price of prescription drugs. It says that the President “supports legislation that cuts costs for prescription drugs.” The budget includes a “reserve fund to account for future legislation, preserving the revenue from proposed tax and prescription drug reforms for the investments needed to bring down costs for American families.”  The National Committee hopes that any meaningful prescription drug reform includes allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with Big Pharma.

There is good news for Social Security beneficiaries in the White House budget. The FY2023 spending proposal includes $14.8 billion (an increase of 14% above the 2021 enacted level) for SSA operations, which have been strained by the pandemic and more than a decade of GOP-forced spending cuts.  Any increase in SSA funding is likely to help relieve customer service bottlenecks – including long wait times on hold when calling the 800 number and interminable waiting periods for disability hearings.  A more robust operating budget should also help ease the reopening of SSA field offices shuttered during the pandemic.

Older Americans Act (OAA) nutrition programs fare well under the President’s budget, which proposes an increase of $306 million over FY2022 levels. (President Trump’s budgets consistently called for zeroing-out federal grants that support some critical OAA programs.)

The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of allowing people to stay in their own homes instead of a nursing home, where they are much safer from infections and where most people prefer to be. The National Committee supports the Biden budget’s investment in Home and Community-based Supportive Services (HCBS). The budget includes $500 million in funding to bolster HCBS under the Older Americans Act, an increase of $135 million.  In addition, the budget provides $266 million (an increase of $61 million above FY 2022 enacted) for the Family Caregivers and Native American Caregiver Support programs.

The President’s budget would establish a 20 percent minimum tax rate on all American households worth more than $100 million, the first tax plan from Biden to target billionaires.  The budget, however, did not address a similar proposal pending in the U.S. House that asks the wealthy to pay their fair share in Social Security payroll taxes. In fact, the budget did not address the overall issue of benefit adequacy or trust fund solvency for either Social Security or Medicare – two issues that are very important to American seniors.

“While we appreciate many aspects of the President’s FY2023 budget proposal, we had hoped that it would reflect efforts by Democrats in Congress to boost Social Security, including a much-needed increase in benefits and an adjustment of the payroll wage cap so that the wealthy pay their fair share into the system.” – Max Richtman  

Overall, the National Committee applauds the Administration’s budget proposal and urges Congress to give it careful consideration in formulating its own appropriations legislation for FY 2023.


Federal Senior Nutrition Programs Turn 50. Let’s Keep Them Fortified.

By |March 22nd, 2022|Congress, Meals on Wheels, Older Americans, Older Americans Act|

The federal law providing seniors with nutritional services turns half a century old today.  In 1972, the Congregate Meals program was added to the Older Americans Act (OAA) providing seniors in need with food in community settings. Six years later, Congress amended the OAA again to include home delivered meals for older Americans. Meals on Wheels is probably the best-known recipient of federal funding under this part of the law.

Though the nutrition provisions were added to the OAA during the Nixon administration, they represent a widening of President Lyndon Johnson’s original vision of a Great Society that takes care of its most vulnerable citizens, including and especially seniors.  Nutrition was a natural bookend for a new era of health care for the elderly that began with Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act – all of which were signed into law by President Johnson in 1965.

 “A Great Society doesn’t let its most vulnerable citizens live in poverty or go hungry.  Adding a nutrition program to LBJ’s vision of the Older Americans Act was a compassionate step to make the program more fully serve the needs of seniors.” – Dan Adcock, Director of Government Relations and Policy, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 

There are two types of nutrition programs under the Older Americans Act – congregate meals and home-delivered meals, both designed to supply lower-income seniors with hot, healthy food on a regular basis.

 Congregate Meals 

The Congregate Meals program encourages seniors to get out of the house, socialize with other people, and eat at least one nutritious meal a day in a community setting.  Many congregate meal centers were forced to closed because of the pandemic. But they are slowly beginning to reopen.

Home-Delivered Meals often provide seniors who can’t easily leave their homes with nutrition and social contact they wouldn’t otherwise have.  Since it wasn’t safe for many seniors to leave their homes during the pandemic, the need for home delivered meals became even more apparent.  That’s why the home-delivered meals program needs to have the capacity to scale-up to handle future emergencies.  

Social Interaction 

Both nutrition programs present an opportunity for seniors who may otherwise be isolated to get some much-needed social interaction. Whether it’s a Meals on Wheels volunteer coming to the home and providing company or seniors sitting together enjoying a congregate meal, nutrition programs are a great antidote for lack of social stimulation.  

Health Consequences 

Seniors who eat regular, healthy meals are generally healthier than older people who don’t get proper nutrition. On the other hand, seniors face serious health consequences from not having proper access to nutritious meals – known as “food insecurity.”

“Malnutrition and unintentional weight loss contribute to progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilization of health care services, premature institutionalization, and increased mortality.” – National Center for Biotechnology Information  

More Work to Be Done 

Despite fifty years of effort by governments and NGO’s, there is more work to be done in the area of senior nutrition.  According to a 2019 study by Baylor University, 7% of Americans age 60 and over are food insecure, and 2.6% have very low food security.  In fact, the number of seniors with very low food security has soared by over 200% since 2001.  (The study was conducted before the pandemic, during which the numbers may have increased.)

Food insecurity among seniors, like many other metrics, is worse for the poor, racial minorities, younger seniors (60-69), and people who rent their homes.

Over the past 20 years or so, funding for OAA nutrition programs failed to keep pace with the growth of the senior population and other demographic changes.  (10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.)  Eligible seniors have faced waiting periods for many OAA services, including home delivered meals, in most states.

Fortunately, for Fiscal Year 2020, total OAA funding, including supplemental funding to respond to the needs of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, reached its highest level ($3.220 billion) in the Act’s five-decade history. This trend continued into Fiscal Year 2021 with an increase of $96 million.  While it took a pandemic to finally provide adequate funding for the Older Americans Act, the National Committee and other seniors’ advocates hope that Congress will give senior nutrition programs the attention they need – and deserve.



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