O’Halleran Introduces Bill to Expand Resources for Tribal Elders

December 5, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), along with Reps. Deb Haaland (NM-01), Sharice Davids (KS-03), and Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, introduced the Tribal Elder Care Improvement Act, legislation to expand supportive services for aging Native American populations.

“Across Indian Country, tribal elders face unique challenges and barriers when seeking health care close to home and family. On average, they face poverty, diabetes, and suicide at far higher rates than the rest of the population,” said O’Halleran. “Today, I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation that combats the significant barriers to care and other necessary assistance that many elders encounter.”

O’Halleran’s bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out a competitive demonstration program to award grants to tribal organizations to assist them in providing a wider range of in-home and community support services for older individuals. Specific support services would include in-home health and care assistance, transportation, case management, health and wellness programs, legal services, family caregiver support services, and other benefits to directly support the independence of older individuals.

“I am focused on finding solutions to the unique issues facing tribal communities and am working to address the ways in which many of these overarching issues disproportionately affect tribal elders,” continued O’Halleran. “This bill is merely a piece of that. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft commonsense legislation to aid the aging populations in these communities.”

The Tribal Elder Care Improvement Act also reauthorizes and increases appropriations for existing key nutrition and caregiver services grant programs for FY2020 – FY2024.

“I’m proud to support the Tribal Elder Care Improvement Act to bolster crucial services for Native American communities and support healthy aging. This legislation is an important step to address disparities and reduce barriers that exist for Tribal Elders and aging populations,” said Assistant Speaker Luján. 

“All our elders deserve to live healthy lives in old age, but Native communities face unique barriers that make it more difficult to provide quality elder care. So, I’m proud to join a bill that will increase health care, caregiver, wellness, and support services that will improve the quality of life for our family members and support those who we love the most well into old age,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. 

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

O’Halleran is a member of the Congressional Native American Caucus.