Older Americans Act update and Medicare open enrollment


By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist
For San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time, long-term care ombudsman, which is an advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. I also am an aging and disability resource specialist and trained Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
As mentioned in past articles, the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization is before Congress. Last month, the House Education and Labor Committee advanced to the full House the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019 (HR 4334) to reauthorize the OAA. The bill authorizes significant funding increases across all OAA programs, including an immediate 7 percent increase in the first year and 6 percent for the four following years.
The OAA currently assists 11 million Americans ages 60 and older annually. It funds a wide range of programs and services, including those via SJBAAA, that millions of seniors rely upon every day, such as senior lunches, Meals on Wheels and transportation. Final funding amounts will be determined by the Appropriations Committees and may vary from the authorization amounts.
When the full House will vote on the legislation is unknown. According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, “As the population of Americans age 60 and over has grown, funding for OAA is not keeping pace. In 2010, OAA funding was $42.95 per senior in today’s dollars. Today, it is $27.25 per senior.
The Dignity Act also has several other provisions, including extending national strategic work to support family caregivers and increased funding for Native American in-home and community programs.
2020 Medicare Open
The annual period to join or change Part D, prescription drug plans and Part C, Medicare Advantage health plans, or return to Original Medicare, begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. The premiums for a couple Part D plans have decreased to under $15 a month and others are about $20 a month. You can find information and sign up on Medicare.gov or call the number below for a SHIP appointment.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call me at 264-0501, ext. 1 or send an email to adrc@sjbaaa.org.