Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living is releasing $1.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan for Older Americans Act programs, including programs to support vaccine outreach and coordination, address social isolation, provide family caregiver support, and offer nutrition support. It will also fund justice programs to ensure the safety and protection of older adults.
The funding will be distributed as follows:
- $750 million for meals for older adults. With this funding for Older Americans Act nutrition programs, states will be able to continue home-delivered meals as well as “drive-through” or “grab-and-go” meals for older adults who typically would participate in meal programs at community centers that have been closed due to the pandemic. It will also allow states to re-open meal program locations safely that might have closed during the pandemic.
- $460 million for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) through the Older Americans Act. This funding provides help to those who need it for help with household chores and grocery shopping; transportation to essential services (such as grocery stores, banks, or doctors); and case management. The funding can also be used to vaccinate older Americans and address the effects of extended social isolation.
- $44 million for evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention. This includes programs to address fall prevention, managing a chronic disease, and programs to detect and reduce depression among older Americans.
- $145 million to help family caregivers support their loved ones. This funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program will assist family and informal caregivers to provide in-home supports, including counseling, respite care, training and more.
- $10 million to safeguard the health and welfare of residents in long-term care facilities. These funds will support State Long-term Care Ombudsman programs to advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities across the country. This money will allow ombudsman programs that are advocating for residents to safely go back into facilities after they had to discontinue that support during the pandemic, and continue to promote the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents.
The announcement coincides with today’s presidential proclamation honoring May 2021 as Older Americans Month. The proclamation recognizes that older Americans and families have faced substantial challenges during the last year, and their resilience and strength have made our country stronger.
Older adults deserve to age with dignity and have equitable access to the long-term care system, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, or socioeconomic status. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding access to health care, nutrition services, caregiving, and opportunities to age in place for all older Americans. In the first 100 days, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to address the health and security of older adults. In addition to the funding announced today, the Administration has:
Expanded Funding for Home and Community Based Services. The American Rescue Plan provides states with billions in additional Medicaid funding to help support their home and community-based services programs. The additional Medicaid funding will help expand access to home and community-based services for older adults and ensure that caregivers are fairly compensated for their work.
Increased Access to Affordable Housing for Seniors. In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced $150 million in available funding to create new deeply affordable housing for seniors with extremely low incomes through the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program. The program supports the construction of new rental homes, as well as their ongoing management and affordability through long-term project-based rental assistance. This will expand access to critically-needed affordable housing for our nation’s seniors.
Provided COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for Elderly Residents of HUD-Assisted Housing. President Biden delivered on his promise to expand the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and to make every person age 16 and older eligible for vaccines. However, too many Americans—especially older Americans—continue to face barriers to accessing COVID-19 vaccines. On Friday, April 30, the Secretaries of HUD and HHS issued a joint letter directing community health centers and HUD’s network of housing agencies, housing owners, and programs to provide COVID-19 vaccinations and testing to HUD-assisted households, including elderly residents in HUD’s senior and public housing. HUD and HHS regional and field staff will facilitate these partnerships, including coordinating on-site vaccine clinics in HUD-assisted housing serving the elderly.
Expanded Nutrition Assistance for Low-Income Seniors. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides nutritious, domestically-sourced USDA foods to low-income persons 60 years or older. The American Rescue Plan provided nearly $37 million to expand the reach of CSFP by fulfilling all 2021 requests from states to serve more seniors and adding the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes to the program. This expansion, along with similar actions in other nutrition programs including SNAP that serve this population, will help combat food insecurity among seniors during the pandemic. In addition, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is ensuring those who rely on CSFP don’t unintentionally lose access to their benefits due to the financial relief they receive through the American Rescue Plan. FNS is providing guidance to states and Tribal nations to exclude stimulus funds and child tax credits provided by the American Rescue Plan from income when determining eligibility for CSFP.
Proposed Robust Investments in the Caregiving Economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers and policymakers warned of an imminent long-term care crisis. Prior to 2020, it was estimated that more than half of people turning 65 would need long term services and supports (LTSS). Older adults can receive these types of services in a variety of places: in their homes, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. The American Jobs Plan proposes to invest an additional $400 billion to expand access to these long-term services and supports for older Americans. This investment will also support well-paying caregiving jobs that include benefits and the ability to collectively bargain, building state infrastructure to improve the quality of services and to support workers. The funding will take significant steps to help older adults get high-quality care in their homes and communities.