February 28, 2020
House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families Introduces Older Americans Bill Of Rights
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families, along with Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Conor Lamb (D-PA), and Vice Chairs Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Ted Deutch (D-FL), introduced the Older Americans Bill of Rights. The resolution, which identifies and establishes fundamental rights that every older American and their families deserve, is centered around four pillars including: guaranteeing access to affordable, equitable and comprehensive health care; financial and retirement security for seniors and their families; full participation and contribution to their communities; and aging with dignity and respect.
A historic 136 House Democrats, representing over half of the House Democratic Caucus, have signed on as co-sponsors. Thus far, 12 pieces of legislation supporting the principles outlined in the resolution, including the bipartisan Lower Drug Costs Now Act, have been passed in the House during the 116th Congress.
Congresswoman Pressley has been a staunch supporter of older Americans and their loved ones. In December, she introduced the Grandfamily Housing Act, legislation to ensure access to affordable and appropriate housing for grandparents raising grandchildren. Last summer, she helped secure more than $800 million for supportive housing for older Americans through the Section 202 program. Congresswoman Pressley is also a sponsor of the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act of 2019, which would combat price gouging by allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies regarding prices for drugs covered under the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
“Seniors have made significant contributions to our communities and our country, and they deserve to age with dignity,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Unfortunately, over 25 million seniors are living in poverty and are struggling with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. The Older Americans Bill of Rights will address these challenges and promote seniors’ ability to age in community with independence. As Vice Chair of the Task Force, I am proud to support this historic legislation that actualizes our obligation to protect our seniors’ humanity so they can thrive long into their twilight years.” “In this country, when you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide a comfortable future for yourself and for your family. Yet today, millions of aging Americans are forced to choose between paying for basic necessities like life-saving prescription drugs or proper long-term care,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). “The Older Americans Bill of Rights guarantees our seniors what the American Dream promises us all: a life of dignity, respect and security.” “Older Americans have spent their lives working to raise families, pay their taxes, protect our country, and build our nation. They earned the right to high quality health care, financial security, and full participation in our communities,” said Co-Chair Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). “As Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging and Families, I am proud to introduce the Older Americans Bill of Rights with the support of 136 of my Democratic colleagues. Our Democratic Majority is working hard to lower prescription drug prices, improve Medicare, protect Medicaid, expand Social Security, prevent financial exploitation, increase affordable housing, and strengthen long-term care. We must protect the earned benefits of older Americans and ensure that they, their families, and their caregivers have all the resources they need to not just survive—but thrive.” “Many seniors now face difficulties achieving retirement security, a challenge only exacerbated by the rising costs in health care and prescription drugs. As the Trump Administration moves to cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits, these affordability challenges will only get worse,” said Co-Chair Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA). “The Older American Bill of Rights is a forceful response to these threats that reinforces how Democrats stand with our older Americans and will fight for their priorities, including guaranteed access to affordable health care, financial security, and livable communities that support aging at home. Our seniors have earned the right to retire and age with dignity.” “In Western PA we know how important it is to care for our seniors, that means protecting Social Security and Medicare,” said Co-Chair Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA). “We made a promise to our seniors and the Older Americans Bill of Rights ensures Congress is always working to address the challenges older Americans face.” “Caring for our elders is not just a responsibility, it is a fundamental value of humanity,” said Vice Chair Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). “The Older Americans Bill of Rights is our promise to America’s elders that in their retirement we will safeguard their financial security, protect their rights to long-term and high-quality affordable health care, and preserve their ability to fully participate in the daily life of their communities. This is a promise Congress and every American should embrace; it is the least we can do in gratitude for our elders’ sacrifices and work to nurture our families, our communities, and our country.” “All of us at some point have had to take care of an elderly family member or friend. We all want to see them live their lives with dignity and security,” said Vice Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). “The Older Americans Bill of Rights makes clear that every older American deserves high-quality, affordable healthcare and long-term care, financial and retirement security, and the ability to fully participate in and contribute to their communities. We also must be paying close attention to family caregivers and ensure they have the support and resources they need.”
“We need to take a stand for our seniors. Growing older in America shouldn’t mean losing your life savings, your independence, or your dignity,” said Vice Chair Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). “In South Florida, I know many older Americans who are concerned about the rising costs of medications, worry that their Social Security check won’t be enough to fill their pantry or cover their rent, and want nothing more than their years of hard work to be rewarded with a safe and secure retirement. Chairs Schakowsky, Matsui, and Lamb, the Task Force Vice Chairs, Democratic Caucus Chair Jeffries, and all of the cosponsors should be commended for setting forward a bold vision for the future of retirement in America. Every Member of Congress should make good on our promises to our seniors by supporting the Older Americans Bill of Rights.”
Supporters of the Older Americans Bill of Rights include: Alliance for Aging Research; Alliance for Retired Americans; American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Caring Across Generations; Center for Medicare Advocacy; Diverse Elders Coalition; Elder Justice Coalition; Families USA; The Gerontological Society of America; Justice in Aging; The Long Term Care Community Coalition; Medicare Rights Center; National Alliance for Caregiving; National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP); National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs (NASOP); National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM); National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care; National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA); SAGE; Social Security Works; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC); Trust for America’s Health; Women’s Institute For A Secure Retirement
# # #