Increasingly, seniors desire to remain at home as they age rather than relocating to assisted living or nursing homes. Their ability to do so often depends on the availability of home and community-based services and other supports. The Older Americans Act of 1965 requires the Administration on Aging (AOA) to promote and support a comprehensive system of services.
Five federal agencies within four departments fund home and community-based services and supports for older adults, and provide funds, often through state agencies, to local governments and community-based organizations:
- The Administration on Aging (AoA)
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Could they be doing a better job? The top government watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) thinks so.
GAO applauds the state and local AoAs, and nonprofit agencies like Goodwill®, that must braid together several funding streams like housing, transportation, meals and employment that help seniors age in place.
But it called on the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate a cross-agency federal strategy to help ensure that federal resources from Administration for Community Living, CMS, USDA, HUD, and DOT are effectively and efficiently used to support a comprehensive system of home and community-based services, and related supports for older adults.
Through such a strategy the agencies could, for example:
- Define common outcomes for affordable housing with supportive services, non-medical transportation, and nutrition assistance at the federal level
- Develop lessons learned for the local networks that area agencies on aging and community-based organizations are forming
- Create strategies for leveraging limited resources.
As Congress considers reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, Goodwill will push to ensure that our seniors are better served by our federal agencies that support our mission and our seniors.