Susan Collins Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine (Photo: Collins)

Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday that supporting family caregivers will be one of her five priority areas when she’s working on reauthorization of the federal Older Americans Act (OAA).

The act shapes many major federal programs that help people over age 65, such as programs that provide meals for low-income older Americans, and for older Americans who are homebound.

(Related: Obama Signs Older Americans Act Reauthorization)

Collins — a Maine Republican who is known for her ability to work with Democrats to create bipartisan bills that get signed into law — is heading an OAA reauthorization panel that includes Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

The reauthorization coalition also includes Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent.

““My chief goal is to get across the finish line, on time, a robust and bipartisan Older Americans Act that will strengthen support for its bread and butter programs, while providing more flexibility for states to meet local needs,” Collins said in a statement about the OAA reauthorization efforts.

In addition to supporting family caregivers, priorities will include nutrition, transportation, reducing social isolation, and elder justice, Collins said.

Collins is chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. That committee held a hearing on the OAA reauthorization effort.

The hearing witnesses touched on private long-term care insurance (LTCI) only in passing.

Richard Prudom, secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, touched on topic briefly, to emphasize the importance of Medicaid as the source of funding for long-term care (LTC) services.

“LTC placement is the leading cause of catastrophic out-of-pocket costs for families and involves substantial government spending, primarily through Medicaid and Medicare,” Prudom said in the written version of his testimony. “Few people have insurance coverage against the high costs of long-term care. After impoverishing themselves, most people must turn to Medicaid to pay for their long-term care services.”

Resources

Links to information about the Senate Special Committee on Aging Older Americans Act hearing, including a video recording of the hearing, are available here.

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