Aging policy update

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

By Roberta Downing, PhD

Over recent months, the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO) has met with staff of the House and Senate Committees that have jurisdiction over the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. A reauthorization of the Older Americans Act has already passed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions but is not expected to be considered on the Senate floor this year due to disagreements over funding formulas. The House Education and Workforce Committee has yet to consider this legislation. 

APA submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee regarding Fiscal Year 2015 funding for several aging-related federal programs. In that testimony, APA encouraged the Health Resources and Services Administration to reinstate the geropsychology component within the Graduate Psychology Education program. APA also indicated its support for Department of Health and Human Services programs on aging including:

  1. An expanded effort to address the mental and behavioral health needs of older adults and implementation of the mental and behavioral health provisions in the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006.
  2. Grants to States for the delivery of mental health screening and treatment services for older individuals.
  3. Programs to increase public awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental disorders in older individuals. 

APA joined national partners in submitting a letter to lead congressional appropriators urging them to fund critical family caregiving and respite care programs in fiscal year 2014 including $2.5 million for the Lifespan Respite Care Program, $154 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and $6 million for the Native American Caregiver Support Program. 

APA submitted comments on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft research plan for primary care screening of depression in adults, including older adults. APA provided comments on how to improve this research study on the effect of referring adults for treatment post screening.

Lastly, APA staff presented on “Mental Health, Behavioral and Social Issues and Mature Black Gay Men” at a conference on the health concerns of African-American men. This presentation focused on mental health concerns of older Black gay men and APA’s policy initiatives at a conference held at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore.

Additional advocacy updates related to older adults and mental health issues may be found on the APA PI-GRO website.