The U.S. Congress marked May 2013, Older Americans Month, by recognizing the importance of key pieces of legislation targeting older adults. On Thursday, May 23, Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Chairman of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, introduced legislation to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2013 (S. 1028; fact sheet). The Eldercare Workforce Alliance, of which APA is a member, issued a press release and submitted a letter of support for the legislation, highlighting provisions to support family caregivers and strengthen the eldercare workforce. APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) staff participated in the OAA Summit on May 23, which is available on video stream, and will continue to work independently and with key coalitions to inform and promote a comprehensive reauthorization of the OAA that addresses the behavioral health, social service, and medical needs of older adults.

APA PI-GRO has also been working with key congressional offices in the U.S. House and Senate to support the re-introduction of the Positive Aging Act. This critical piece of legislation would significantly improve access to quality mental and behavioral health care for older adults by integrating mental health services in primary care and community settings where older adults reside and receive services. Specifically, the bill would support efforts to develop inter-professional teams of mental health, medical, and social service providers in order to promote an integrated approach to addressing the health and well-being of our nation’s growing, increasingly diverse older adult population. APA will continue to advocate for the introduction and ultimate passage of this critical legislation in the 113th Congress, and will call upon APA members and experts in the field to support the bill as it moves through the legislative process.

Nida H. Corry, PhD, Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer; Director, Congressional Fellowship Program; Government Relations Office, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association;  [email protected].

Posted 5/30/13