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Bipartisan Legislation Supports Healthy Aging for Seniors

Friday, May 27, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress that closely align with recommendations released this week by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Senior Health and Housing Task Force. In their report, Healthy Aging Begins at Home, task force co-chairs, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, former HUD Secretary and Senator Mel Martinez, and former representatives Allyson Y. Schwartz and Vin Weber, offer policy options to better integrate the health care and housing needs of America’s seniors. This effort builds on BPC’s Housing Commission, which identified the desire of millions of seniors to age in place in their own homes and communities as a new “frontier in housing.”

Legislation includes:

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 2962), introduced by Senate Finance Committee member Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), contains provisions consistent with BPC’s call for increasing federal support for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by 50 percent. The LIHTC and the private investment it can leverage are sorely needed to increase the supply of affordable and available homes for our nation’s growing number of older adults.

The Senior Accessible Housing Act (H.R. 5254), sponsored by Representatives Patrick Murphy (D-FL) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), members of the House Financial Services Committee, will help older adults afford home assessments and modifications (such as widening doorways and installing grab bars). Most homes in the U.S. are not physically suitable for healthy aging. This legislation will support home alterations that enhance mobility and reduce negative health outcomes like falls, a key aim of BPC’s recommendations.

“Our recommendations underscore the belief that greater integration of America’s health care and housing systems is essential to improving health outcomes, cost savings, and enhancing the quality of life for America’s aging population,” said Dr. Anand Parekh, BPC senior advisor leading the Senior Health and Housing Task Force. “These bills are proof of the bipartisan opportunity we have to improve the health and wellbeing of our nation’s older adults.”

Read Healthy Aging Begins at Home, its priority recommendations for what can be done to advance healthy aging in the near term, and the infographic.

Dr. Anand Parekh, senior advisor for BPC’s Senior Health and Housing Task Force, is available for comment.

KEYWORDS: LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT, HENRY CISNEROS, MEL MARTINEZ, ORRIN HATCH, 114TH CONGRESS, MARIA CANTWELL, SENIOR HEALTH AND HOUSING TASK FORCE, ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, VIN WEBER, ANAND PAREKH, PATRICK MURPHY, BRUCE POLIQUIN