September 28, 2021

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Celebrating Older Americans Month by Empowering Our Older Adults

12 min read

By: Xavier Becerra, Secretary

I remember working alongside my father during my youth paving and repairing Sacramento roads. My father was a strong man who woke up in the early morning hours every day, went to work, and returned home to do more work around the house. As he grew older, his body might have aged, but his resilient and hard-working spirit stayed the same. “Don’t confuse them with your lean in,” he would tell me when I drafted remarks to constituents. “Tell them about GANAS!” In my home GANAS mean guts, grits, and game, and my father had a lot of GANAS.

Throughout his life and until his passing two years ago, my father remained committed to his community and to his family. And despite the sadness of having to say goodbye, I took satisfaction in being able to care for him and assist him as he led a plentiful life during his golden years.

Like my father, since the beginning of the pandemic, older Americans have shown a lot of GANAS through the disproportionate challenges they have faced. Isolated from their families and friends, separated from community resources, and under siege from a pandemic that put them at far greater risk of serious illness and even death, millions of older Americans set an example of resilience for us all to follow, by overcoming hardships and even finding new ways to thrive. Older Americans are themselves a “Community of Strength,” and our nation is stronger when they can contribute their knowledge, skills and example to the communities in which they live. Older Americans have played an important role in helping our nation weather this crisis, and they will continue to play an important role as we recover. Now it is important that we assist our older adults in their later years.

During Older Americans Month, we recognize and celebrate these contributions, and recommit to our work to empower older adults, so they can live as independently as possible and continue to participate fully in their communities and our country. Here is how:

  • HRSA-funded health centers deliver affordable accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care to nearly 30 million people each year, including more than 8 million people age 50 and older.
  • Vaccination is critical for older adults, but many have had difficulty making or traveling to vaccination appointments or have faced other barriers to taking this important step to protect themselves from COVID-19. With funding from CDC, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) issued nearly $100 million in grants to the aging and disability networks to provide critical services to help older adults and people with disabilities overcome these barriers.  ACL, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) published several new resources and guidance on April 13, 2021 to help states, vaccination providers, and others leading COVID-19 response activities improve access to vaccines for older adults and people with disabilities.
  • Funded through the American Rescue Plan, ACL issued grants totaling $1.4B to help older adults recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other benefits, these grants will help accelerate vaccinations of older adults, support family caregivers, provide meals and other nutrition services, help older adults connect and engage with others to reduce social isolation, and re-open senior centers.
  • Building on work they have done throughout the pandemic to uphold the rights of older adults and people with disabilities to non-discriminatory access to medical resources, OCR this week announced the successful resolution of a complaint against the State of Arizona. As a result, Arizona’s crisis standards of care guidelines were revised to reflect legal requirements and best practices regarding the needs of older adults and people with disabilities.
  • The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has provided grants to all states, territories, and several tribes over the past several years to establish, expand and evaluate kinship navigator programs, which provide an important mechanism to support kinship caregivers, such as grandparents. The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2.7 million grandparent caregivers in the United States.
  • The CDC and the Alzheimer’s Association, with contributions from the Indian Health Service and guidance from tribes and tribal organizations, produced the Healthy Brain Initiative Roadmap for Indian Country, the first-ever public health guide focused on dementia in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in collaboration with OCR, developed the Guide to Getting and Using Your Health Records to help everyone – patients and their caregivers – learn about their rights to get, check and use their health information to take control of their health, well-being, and safety.
  • The CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention launched the national Still Going Strong Campaign on May 6, 2021 to raise awareness of the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths in older adults, age 65 and older, so that older adults can stay healthy and independent longer.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided states with guidance for receiving increased federal funding for home and community-based services (HCBS) through the American Rescue Plan. HCBS make it possible for millions of seniors and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses to live in the community and to avoid institutions.

Growing old is a road that we all travel if we are fortunate, and most of us will need assistance – whether that is from family or friends, or through services provided in our homes – to travel it in our own communities. As we build back better, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to ensuring that we build the infrastructure we need to provide those services and support informal caregivers. This Older Americans Month, I think of my father and his example and guidance, and as a Department we recommit to doing our part to honor older adults and to empowering them to continue living full, healthy and independent lives.

More from: Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)

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  • Afghanistan: Changes to Updated U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework Reflect Evolving U.S. Role
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Although the October 2012 and the August 2013 versions of the U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework for Afghanistan have similarities, the two versions differ in several aspects. These differences reflect, among other things, the U.S. government's heightened emphasis on the transition, through the end of 2014, of security responsibility for Afghanistan to Afghan security institutions and the Afghan National Security Forces as well as the transition in U.S. policy toward a more traditional diplomatic and development model. Both versions of the framework address four categories of U.S. efforts in support of U.S. national goals in Afghanistan, with security, the first category, as the foundation for the other three categories, or "pillars"--governance, rule of law, and socioeconomic development. Both versions also address the same crosscutting issues. Differences between the two versions include the following: In the August 2013 version, the framework's function and statement of U.S. national goals have been modified to reflect changes in U.S. civilian and military efforts during and after the transition.  The August 2013 version contains new information about the U.S.-Afghan partnership during the transition.  The August 2013 version includes new, transition-focused subsections for each of the three strategic pillars--governance, rule of law, and socioeconomic development--assessing the impact of reduced U.S. resources and presence on U.S. objectives and priorities.  The August 2013 version provides fewer details about the future U.S. government footprint in Afghanistan, reflecting uncertainty affecting the U.S. post-2014 strategy.  The August 2013 version replaces a section about measuring progress with a new section about civil-military cooperation.  The August 2013 framework excludes a list of strategic risks and of factors that could mitigate those risks. Why GAO Did This Study Section 1220 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) mandates GAO to report on any substantial updates to the campaign plan for Afghanistan, which the U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework for Afghanistan has replaced. To satisfy the mandate, this report broadly compares the August 2013 version of the framework with the October 2012 version, summarizing the differences between them. For more information, contact Michael J. Courts at (202) 512-8980 or CourtsM@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Enactment of Legal Peace Legislation to Restore Sudan’s Sovereign Immunities
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Upholding Research Integrity at HHS
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    February 17, 2021 By: [Read More…]
  • Joint Press Statement on the 11th U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Designation of Al-Qa’ida-Linked Financial Facilitators
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIS
    In Crime News
    In San Antonio today, 22-year-old Cost resident Jaylyn Christopher Molina, aka Abdur Rahim, admitted to conspiring to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Syria (ISIS), announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Gregg N. Sofer and FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division Christopher Combs.
    [Read More…]
  • Tax Filing: Actions Needed to Address Processing Delays and Risks to the 2021 Filing Season
    In U.S GAO News
    The 2020 filing season occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic, introducing challenges that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had to respond to quickly to fulfill its mission-essential functions. IRS took steps to protect the integrity of its operations, help ensure the health and safety of its employees, and provide relief to taxpayers. For example, IRS closed all its processing and service facilities for several weeks before re-opening with health and safety measures and extended the filing season deadline to July 15, 2020. IRS's 2020 processing of e-filed returns was generally on par with prior years. However, IRS's overall 2020 performance was significantly impacted by its reliance on manual processes such as for paper returns, and its limited ability to process returns remotely while processing centers were closed. As a result, as of December 2020, IRS had a significant backlog of unprocessed returns and taxpayer correspondence. Additionally, costs increased including interest on delayed refunds which exceeded $3 billion in fiscal year 2020. IRS has not revised its estimates for addressing all of the backlog due to operational uncertainties created by the pandemic. Doing so would help IRS determine how best to address the backlog and perform 2021 filing season activities. Refund Interest Paid to Taxpayers, Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 GAO also found that about 23 percent of business tax returns were filed on paper even though an e-file option is available. IRS has not comprehensively identified barriers to business-related e-filing nor taken specific actions to increase e-filing. Doing so would help reduce the volume of costly paper-based work and improve services to business filers. Further, during the filing season, IRS transitioned nearly two-thirds of its phone customer service staff to telework, but was unable to do so for returns processing staff because most of its paper-based work is not set up to be performed remotely. As of late October 2020, about one-third of these staff remained on paid leave. Identifying and implementing alternative work assignments for staff that remain on paid leave would better support IRS operations and reduce costs. IRS has not fully identified and assessed all risks to the 2021 filing season—including those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic—consistent with enterprise risk management practices. IRS identified some risks in October 2020 after GAO raised concerns, but did not fully address all essential elements of enterprise risk management, such as identifying options for risk response. Doing so would better position IRS to respond to risks during the 2021 filing season. In early 2021, after receiving a draft of this report, IRS provided additional information on its risk management efforts. GAO will review this information to determine if these efforts are sufficient to address its recommendation. During the annual tax filing season, generally from January to mid-April, IRS processes more than 150 million individual and business tax returns and provides telephone, correspondence, online, and in-person services to tens of millions of taxpayers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide relief to taxpayers, IRS extended the 2020 filing and payment deadline by 3 months to July 15, 2020. GAO was asked to review IRS's performance during the 2020 filing season. This report (1) describes the changes IRS made to operations and services for the 2020 filing season due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) assesses IRS's performance on providing customer service and processing individual and business income tax returns during the 2020 filing season and compare to prior filing seasons, where appropriate; and (3) evaluates IRS's plans to prepare for the 2021 filing season. GAO analyzed IRS documents, filing season performance data, and employee timecard data; assessed IRS's plans for the 2021 filing season; and interviewed cognizant officials. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that IRS revise estimates for addressing its backlog; identify and address barriers to e-filing for business taxpayers; identify and consider implementing alternative work assignments for returns processing staff on paid leave; and identify and assess risks to the 2021 filing season. IRS agreed with four recommendations and disagreed with three. GAO believes that the recommendations remain warranted. For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-6806 or lucasjudyj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Announces Closing of Investigation into 2014 Officer Involved Shooting in Cleveland, Ohio
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that the career prosecutors reviewing the independent federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio, found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.  Yesterday the department notified counsel for Mr. Rice’s family of the decision and today sent a letter to Mr. Rice’s family explaining the findings of the investigation and reasons for the decision.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Greenlandic Premier Mute Egede, Greenlandic Foreign Minister Pele Broberg, And Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod At a Joint Press Availability
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Pesticides
    In Crime News
    An Indiana man who distributed unregistered pesticides to the tenants and managers of an apartment building he owned has pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken to U.S. Mission Canada
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Compounding Pharmacy Mogul Sentenced for Multimillion-Dollar Health Care Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Mississippi businessman was sentenced today for his role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud TRICARE, the health care benefit program serving U.S. military, veterans, and their respective family members, as well as private health care benefit programs.
    [Read More…]
  • Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Remarks to the National Association of Attorneys General on Responsible Encryption and Lawful Access
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, everyone.  First, I would like to thank Amie Ely and the wonderful team at NAAG for all of their amazing work, and for hosting this event on such an important topic.  Thank you as well to everyone in the audience for taking the time to join virtually for what should be a truly interesting conversation.  Perhaps it’s fitting that we are having a discussion — via webcam — that highlights the importance of digital evidence.
    [Read More…]
  • Kyrgyz Republic National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
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