Wednesday, March 09, 2022
This spring, AgeGuide hosted two virtual Advocacy Collaborative Events around the theme, the Longevity AGEnda. These events focused on informing legislators about issues facing older adults, caregivers, and their families in our region. Over 265 aging network professionals, elected officials, older adults, and other advocates came together to engage, empower, and advocate.
Although we did not gather in-person, the events were well-attended and the speakers shared engaging stories that gave a window into aging services and sparked great conversations. AgeGuide Chief Executive Officer, Marla Fronczak, talked about how the pandemic left an indelible mark on older adults and essential aging services. Courtney Hedderman, Associate State Director for Advocacy and Outreach at AARP Illinois, inspired us to engage in advocacy with an insightful keynote speech about reforming long-term care. Local aging service providers shared how interventions and supports empower older adults in our region and elected officials shared how we can advocate together for specific legislative proposals that affect older adults.
The message was overall one of action. AgeGuide is committed to supporting public policies and legislation that strengthen caregiver services, reform long-term care, and support essential community-based services.
Now that we’ve talked about how to engage, empower, and advocate on behalf of older adults, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and take action to promote a longevity agenda at the state and federal level. Join AgeGuide in advocating for caregivers in Illinois. You can make a difference by clicking here: https://ageguide.org/advocacy/#/11 and sending a letter to your Illinois legislators about including $6 million in the state budget for family caregivers.
The aging network has been advocating for increases to Older Americans Act funding in the federal budget this year to address the growing aging population and increased demand for services as a result of the pandemic. Up until now, legislators kept the government running with three consecutive Continuing Resolutions. Then, on March 9th, Congress finally reached a bipartisan consensus on a $1.5 trillion budget package. The bill is expected to pass the House and the Senate with expediency.
Unfortunately, the final negotiated bill does not include all the increases originally requested by the President and the House and Senate which was supported by the aging network.
The bill now includes the following funding levels for the Older Americans Act (OAA):
- $6 million (1.5 percent) increase for Home & Community-Based Supportive Services.
- $15 million (1.5 percent) increase for Nutrition Services.
- $5 million (2.6 percent) increase for Caregiver Support.
- $1 million (4.2 percent) increase for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
- Level funding for Evidence-Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
While these increases are helpful, they do not go far enough. More advocacy will be needed in next year to get Older Americans Act funding to the level needed to address the needs of the growing aging population. Stay tuned to AgeGuide for more ways to advocate for critical funding in the future.
If you would like to learn more about how to get involved in our advocacy efforts, please visit http://www.ageguide.org/advocacy.