Howard Bedlin, National Council on Aging Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, minced no words about cuts to the OAA. In an email to The Huffington Post, he wrote: “Right now there are more people aged 65 and older then there have ever been before, and 10,000 baby boomers join that group every day. The Older Americans Act has already been subjected to cuts over the last seven years – in a time when it should have seen investments to meet the needs of the aging American population. Slashing the budget for these programs now would have immediate and real effects on older adults and their families ― such as fewer older adults receiving meals, a harder time for them getting transportation to doctor’s appointments, less assistance with finding work for seniors having trouble making ends meet, and family caregivers losing their outlet for respite care and training.”
And while hands-on services are where the most immediate pain will be felt, it behooves us to look long-term as well: What will happen to research money now being spent on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s or other diseases that afflict the elderly? What will become of tele-medicine? Easier access to preventative medicine, like flu shots, blood pressure readings, glucose testing?
In the words of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
The twilight years in America just got a bit darker.