05-08-19 n4a Announcement
May 8, 2019
To: n4a Members
From: Sandy Markwood, CEO
RE: ACL Re-Organization and Older Americans
Act Reauthorization Recommendations
It’s been a very busy day for aging policy in Washington, DC. In addition to today’s Senate Aging Committee hearing on Older Americans Act (OAA) (see this morning’s Legislative Update) and the House Appropriations Committee’s passage of increases for OAA program and services (details coming in tomorrow’s Legislative Update), the Trump Administration released two sets of major policy positions.
ACL Re-Organization Plan
A re-organization plan for the Administration for Community Living (ACL) was published in the Federal Register today. The plan renames many of the current divisions within ACL, with some movement of programs from one office to another. Some of the title changes under the Administration on Disability suggest a downgrading (e.g., from Administration to Office), but absent full detail, it is unclear if that is the practical effect.
A re-organization of regional offices is also included that we believe will result in significant changes to regional infrastructure. However, the Federal Register notice is unclear on what the specific changes are, or the impact of those changes. Although n4a has received numerous unofficial communications on this re-organization, it’s important that all the details be shared publicly with stakeholders. We will immediately request that ACL swiftly brief our members in greater detail on what these changes mean for local administration of all ACL programs.
At this level of re-organization, the Administration does not have to ask for permission from Congress. However, there are procedures and traditions that dictate how the Administration informs Congress and the public of such changes. In this instance, the House Appropriations Committee raised concerns regarding the Administration’s re-organization in its FY 2020 Labor/HHS/Education spending bill released today, indicating that Congress should have had more notice of the changes and that it recommends consulting stakeholders on implementation.
The Administration’s OAA Recommendations
This afternoon, Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL Administrator Lance Robertson shared with the Senate Aging Committee the Administration’s official OAA reauthorization proposals. As this morning’s Legislative Update indicated, the bill drafting process is well underway in the Senate, but the Administration’s positions could be considered by Congress if there is support for them. Read his testimony.
n4a supports the Administration’s recommendation to eliminate the 10 percent cap on use of OAA Title III E funds for kinship caregivers. In fact, we’ve already worked closely on a bipartisan bill, S. 1146, introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), that would more modestly increase the cap to 15 percent. We are optimistic that this proposal will make it into the Senate’s OAA reauthorization package that will be released later this month.
Another Administration recommendation is to increase the minimum administrative funding level for state units on aging. Currently, states may use 5 percent or $500,000—whichever is higher—of Title III allocations for administrative expenses. The Administration recommends increasing that minimum to $750,000. Currently, 16 states draw the minimum level of $500,000, so this would mean at least an additional $4.0 million could be redirected from Title III in those affected states for state administrative expenses. An additional 7 states would be affected that currently draw between $500,000 and $750,000 in admin costs.
The final Administration recommendation gives n4a serious pause. The proposal would remove the current OAA provision that grants local governmental entities the right of first refusal should a planning and service area become available (e.g., if a AAA was de-designated or if the state unit reorganized the AAA network, etc.). The provision granting this right of first refusal to local governmental entities has been in the Act since 1984 and reflects the role of local governmental entities in supporting OAA implementation, whether or not they ultimately operate the AAA. n4a is concerned this provision would foster significant disruption among AAA networks—especially in states where some or all of the AAAs are administered through regional, county or city governments.
Be assured that n4a is actively engaging on your behalf on these and many other federal policy fronts in DC, and we will continue to keep you informed and equipped as advocates via our Advocacy Alerts and Legislative Updates.
The good news is that tomorrow’s n4a news will be positive, as our collective advocacy work has generated increases to n4a’s top appropriations priorities in the House’s FY 2020 Labor-HHS spending bill, which will be considered this afternoon! Details about the proposed funding levels will be in tomorrow’s members-only n4a Legislative Update.
Thank you for your support of n4a and for your advocacy.