Aging policy update

The Public Interest Government Relations Office advocates for essential aging services.

By Ben Vonachen

Over recent months, the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) has joined national partners in advocating for the authorization and funding of essential programs and services for older Americans. Select highlights of APA advocacy activities in this arena are:  

APA submitted a written testimony to U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging entitled "Older Americans: The Changing Face of HIV/AIDS in America." APA’s testimony focused on the many psychological challenges HIV-infected older adults can face over their lifespan and the need additional services, supports and research. Consistent with the principles of geriatric practice, APA advocated that policies for HIV-infected older adults should ensure that individuals have access to preventive approaches that promote greater linkage to and retention in care (including psychological care), improve antiretroviral adherence and reduce risky sexual behavior. 

In partnership with the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), APA lobbied key members of Congress and staff about the importance of funding Title VII Geriatrics Health Professions funding under the Public Health Services Act and family caregivers support programs. Title VII Geriatrics Health Professions programs are the only federal programs that increase the number of faculty with geriatrics expertise in a variety of disciplines who provide training of interdisciplinary teams of health professionals. Additionally, urged Congress to appropriate $173 million in funding for programs administered by the Administration on Aging that support the vital role of family caregivers in providing care for older adults.

In October, APA wrote a letter of support for the reauthorization of The Older Americans Act (OAA) (S.1562) in the 113th Congress. This critical legislation works to address the integrated physical and behavioral health care needs of our aging citizens and to provide long-term services and supports (LTSS) for their ongoing care. OAA reauthorization also offers an important opportunity to help modernize the services network necessary to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse and neglect, promote the delivery of evidence-based programs, address issues of economic hardship and improve coordination between programs.

In September, APA submitted a list of recommendations to Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Finance regarding improving Medicare.