Susan Collins, one of the key gatekeepers in the Senate, is the lead sponsor for the home modification bill. (Photo: Collins)

Three senators are trying to get more information about federal home modification programs for older Americans.

The senators have brought back the Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act bill.

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The bill would require an official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate all federal programs that help people make homes suitable for frail older Americans, and for older Americans with disabilities.

The HHS official — the assistant secretary for aging — would have to publish an annual report on the programs’ work. The report would show how many people each program had served, what kinds of people had received help, and how much federal funding each program had received.

The report would also assess the effects of the programs on older Americans’ health, and point out any gaps in access to home modification programs.

To serve consumers, the HHS official would distribute a consumer guide to the federal home modification programs through the National Eldercare Locator Service.

The sponsors are Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine; Angus King, an independent from Maine who usually votes with the Democrats; and Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii.

King introduced a similar bill in the previous Congress, as S. 3230. That version had two cosponsors. It died in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The new version does not yet have a bill number.

Collins’ support for the new version could be important, because the Republicans hold just 52 seats in the Senate. Republican leaders’ usually need Collins’ support to get a majority on a vote in the Senate.

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