WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Boozman (R-AR) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would direct federal agencies to set national standards for healthy aging and creating age-friendly communities. The Age-Friendly Communities Act would amend the Older Americans Act by requiring departments across the federal government to develop a national set of goals on healthy aging and age-friendly communities and establish a public-private coordinating body to provide recommendations and best practices for implementing those goals. Age-friendly communities are those committed to working toward ensuring their seniors have access to amenities such as housing, transportation, social and civic opportunities, volunteerism, employment, and supportive services. The national set of goals will also support aging in place and senior access to preventive and long-term care, including home- and community-based health services and caregivers.
“As increasingly larger generations of Michiganders and Americans enter into the later stages of adulthood and retirement, it is important to have meaningful public and private initiatives that help allow our senior citizens to continue leading healthy and independent lives,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation recognizes we need a cross-sector and comprehensive approach to supporting older Americans on a community-wide basis, from transportation and affordable housing to caregiving and aging in place.”
“According to the 2013 Census, Arkansas is ranked 10th in the nation for percentage of persons 60 and above so we certainly need to ensure our communities are prepared for the needs of a rapidly aging population,” said Senator Boozman. “Our legislation will help bring communities together to address this challenge by creating public-private partnerships to modernize long-term care practices and increase access to preventative care services older Americans need, while helping to make our communities more age-friendly across the country.”
“Easterseals is proud to support Senator Peters’ Age-Friendly Communities Act,” said Maynard Friesz, Assistant Vice President, Government Relations, Easterseals. “We thank Senator Peters for his leadership on improving transportation options for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others.”
“The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging is so pleased to support Senator Peters’ legislation intended to make communities more livable and age-friendly, and the role such initiatives can play in promoting healthy aging,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “Our Area Agency on Aging members have been leading these efforts in communities across the country for at least a decade, and we welcome this federal attention paid to the value of making communities more livable for older adults, which has benefits for people of all ages.”
This bill would bring numerous federal entities to the table to discuss a national set of goals to support healthy aging and age-friendly communities, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and the Department of Labor, among others.
There’s a growing aging population in the U.S. including in Michigan. There is projected to be more than 3 million Michiganders over the age of 55 by 2020, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy. By 2030, that number is projected grow to over 3.5 million. Nationally, according to the Census, by 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65, which is estimated to expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age.
Peters has long been an advocate in Congress for Michigan seniors. Earlier this year he helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation to expand health care access in both rural and underserved communities by providing additional pathways for Medicare to cover increased telehealth services. Additionally, Peters joined his colleagues to introduce legislation to strengthen the bargaining rights of seniors on the cost of prescription drugs.