A Record of Progress on Improving the Lives of Seniors

New report highlights Aging Committee’s work under the leadership of Senator Susan Collins

Since 2015, Aging Committee members have authored at least 45 new laws, held 74 hearings to improve the wellbeing of older Americans

 

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Aging Committee released a report reviewing its members’ bipartisan accomplishments aimed at addressing the needs of seniors over the past six years.  Under the leadership of Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA), and former Senator and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the Aging Committee has highlighted and advocated for the needs of older Americans and has continued its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Aging Committee held the first hearing in Congress on the pandemic’s profound consequences for older Americans.  Through critical hearings, investigations, and oversight, the Committee focused the attention of Congress, and the nation, on the problems affecting older Americans and played a key role in developing and advancing solutions.  The report released by the Committee chronicles how the Aging Committee has served as a catalyst for legislative action to improve aging in America.

 

The Aging Committee has made significant strides to spur the development of policies that invest in today’s older Americans as well as future generations.  In particular, progress has been made in advancing biomedical research, developing means to enable more Americans to age at home, and calling attention to the growing economic needs of seniors during retirement.  Through its Fraud Hotline, the Committee has helped protect scores of Americans from scams and abuse.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee has, as it has during previous national emergencies, spotlighted the needs of older Americans and worked to fulfill them.

 

Over the past six years, the Aging Committee has held 74 hearings featuring expert testimony on issues important to older Americans, helping to generate and shape at least 45 new laws authored by members of the Committee to support seniors.

 

“Since becoming Chairman in 2015, my goals for the Aging Committee have been to enhance the health and economic security of older Americans.  This report details how, over the course of 74 hearings and dozens of new laws, the Aging Committee has succeeded in improving the lives of seniors,” said Senator Collins.  “Some of the issues we have focused on include improving retirement security, protecting seniors from fraud and abuse, increasing investments in lifesaving biomedical research, and reining in the spiraling cost of prescription medications.  We have also examined ways to help keep seniors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure good nutrition, support older Americans in the workforce, and strengthen housing and community connections.  I am proud of all that the Aging Committee has accomplished, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on this bipartisan progress to ensure that Congress is meeting the needs of our seniors.” 

 

“As Ranking Member of the Aging Committee, I am proud to have advanced important policies to protect the wellbeing of seniors and people with disabilities and helps them thrive in their communities,” said Senator Casey. “As more than 10,000 adults turn age 65 every day, the Aging Committee continues to champion critical efforts to ensure that older Americans and people with disabilities can live with dignity in their golden years. The Committee’s work has included supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, fighting for benefits for aging veterans and their caregivers, leading the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, and much more.”

 

The report released today highlights the Aging Committee’s sweeping actions on issues important to seniors:

 

  1. Spurring Better Treatments and Cures for Improving the Health of Older Americans

 

Among the areas on which the Aging Committee has focused in recent years is advancing biomedical research for diseases that disproportionately affect older Americans.  The Committee has held 12 hearings on the topic since 2015, including annual hearings on Alzheimer’s disease, biennial hearings on diabetes, and a number of field hearings on topics ranging from pancreatic cancer to cardiovascular disease.  With the support of Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Casey, and other members of the Aging Committee, Congress has made investing in biomedical research a bipartisan priority.  Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the nation’s premier biomedical research arm – has increased by nearly 40 percent over the last five years, from $30.31 billion in 2015 to $41.69 billion in 2020.   In recent years, scientists have made discoveries in interventions that extend not only lifespan, but also healthspan – the portion of life spent in good health.

 

  1. Supporting Aging in the Community

 

Programs and initiatives that help older adults to remain in their homes and connected to their communities can help pave the path for successful aging.  The Aging Committee has highlighted these programs and ways in which the federal government can support them.  The Committee has held 13 hearings since 2015 calling attention to growing barriers to healthy aging, including demands on family caregivers, the rise of social isolation, and the accessibility of health care at home, and Committee members have put forth a number of solutions, from strengthening supportive services to advancing age-friendly communities. 

 

  • Spotlight on Drug Pricing

 

In 2015, the Aging Committee launched the Senate’s first bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to egregious price spikes for certain off-patent drugs.  Over the course of 10 hearings, the Committee examined patient hardships in affording prescription drugs, investigated the complex system that leads to high drug prices, and identified ways to bring costs down for older Americans.  The Committee released a report on its investigation in 2016. 

 

  1. Supporting Seniors During Public Health Emergencies

 

As seen in the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors face unique health needs during natural disasters and public health emergencies.  The Aging Committee has worked to draw attention and identify solutions to these needs, whether they arise from infectious diseases or hurricanes.  Since 2015, the Committee has held nine hearings examining the topic.  Aging Committee members have successfully worked to ensure older adults are better prepared for and more protected from future threats by requiring special considerations and recommendations for seniors to be included in our nation’s response framework for emergencies.  

 

  1. Fighting Scams Targeting Seniors

 

Older Americans lose billions of dollars each year to an ever-growing array of financial exploitation schemes that seek to steal their hard-earned retirement savings and personal information.  Over the past three Congresses, the Aging Committee has held 19 hearings to raise public awareness about elder fraud and abuse and to examine efforts to protect older Americans.  The Aging Committee also maintains a toll-free Fraud Hotline (1-855-303-9470), which serves as a resource for seniors and others affected by scams.  Since the Fraud Hotline’s inception in 2013, more than 10,000 individuals from all 50 States have contacted the hotline to report a possible scam.  

 

  1. Improving Retirement Security

 

The Aging Committee has focused on addressing the $7.1 trillion retirement savings gap.  The Committee has held 11 hearings examining the state of the nation’s retirement system, obstacles seniors confront when seeking to remain in or re-enter the workforce, the financial security challenges that older women face, public and private efforts to strengthen Americans’ retirement security, and strategies for maximizing Social Security benefits.

 

Click HERE to read the Aging Committee’s full report.

 

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