WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in the midst of Older Americans Month, AARP Ohio volunteer Michael Barnhart and State Director Jane Taylor are on Capitol Hill to urge congressional representatives to support bills, including the Older Americans Act, that can help Americans live their best lives. The two are making visits to the offices of half a dozen members of Ohio’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss issues crucial to older Americans.
Barnhart says he will emphasize that it is especially important for Congress reauthorize the bipartisan Older Americans Act, passed into law in 1965, which funds critical services for Ohio’s most vulnerable older citizens. “During May, the month that celebrates and recognizes older Americans, we urge Congress to take action on a long list of issues that matter to our AARP Ohio members and their families,” he says.
The issues that Barnhart, who volunteers as state president for AARP Ohio, and Taylor are raising with members of the House include:
• The Older Americans Act (S.1562 / H.R.3850): The reauthorization of the bipartisan Older Americans Act provides an array of programs and services to assist, protect, nourish and sustain Ohio’s seniors with maximum dignity and independence. In Ohio, $49,991,133 in funding for vulnerable seniors in 2014 goes to meal and nutrition services, caregiver support, and preventive health care, among other things. AARP has consistently supported and urged a re-authorization with minor changes to strengthen and improve this crucial law.
• Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR): Also known as the “Doc Fix,” Medicare beneficiaries and doctors shouldn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of short term solution after short term solution. Doctors and their patients deserve a stable, predictable reimbursement system that will encourage doctors and providers to deliver high-quality care. AARP supports a permanent repeal of SGR and a move toward a reimbursement system that promotes quality and value without shifting costs onto beneficiaries through higher cost-sharing or reduced benefits.
• Responsible Solutions for Medicare’s Adequacy and Solvency: AARP believes we can improve Medicare solvency by generating savings throughout the entire healthcare system, such as finding ways to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse; improving care coordination; and lowering prescription costs. This must also be achieved without shifting costs onto beneficiaries through
• Protecting Older Workers Against Age Discrimination Act (POWADA) (S.1391 / H.R.2852): Passage of the bipartisan POWADA would protect workers by reestablishing the principle that unlawful discrimination should not play a role in workplace decisions. A recent Supreme Court decision made it more difficult for older workers to prove claims of illegal bias based on age.
• Safe Streets Act (S.2004 / H.R.2468): The passage of the bipartisan Safe Streets Act, introduced by Ohio Congressman David Joyce, R-14th District, would ensure that planners and traffic engineers design, construct, and operate roads with the safety of all users in mind by directing states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to create a " safe streets" policy within two years of enactment. The policy would be different for each locality based on their individual communities.
As Congress gets closer to a midterm election expected to once again see the influence of older voters, Taylor points out, AARP’s volunteers hope that their issues resonate clearly before they head to the voting booths in November.