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Archive March 2024

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#USAgingHere4You: Marisa Scala-Foley

Marisa Scala-Foley joined USAging in May 2018 and serves as the Director of the Aging and Disability Business Institute, which builds the capacity of AAAs, aging and disability community-based organizations (CBOs) and networks of AAAs and CBOs to partner and contract with health care providers and payers.
 
Marisa came to USAging from the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) where she served for eight years as Director of the Office of Integrated Care Innovations in the Center for Integrated Programs, managing the agency’s efforts to build the capacity of state and community-based organizations for delivery system reform. Prior to joining ACL, Marisa helped found and lead the National Council on Aging’s Center for Benefits Access.
 
“I’ve spent my entire career in the field of aging on issues related to health care and long-term services and supports. As a teenager I volunteered at a local nursing home in my hometown in New Jersey. That led me to pursue an undergraduate certificate from the College of the Holy Cross in MA and a master’s degree in Gerontology from Miami University in OH.”
 
Since joining USAging, the most important lesson Marisa has learned is that the Aging Network and our members are always growing and changing, and there is always more to learn so that we can better support our members and the people whom they serve.  
 
“Our team at the Business Institute would love our members to think about and plan for their agency’s future through partnerships and contracting with health care payers and providers.”
 
Marisa says that she is “a sucker for a bad disaster movie” and her favorite book of all time is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Currently, she is listening to Evvie Drake Starts Over and finds it hysterically funny!
 
To learn more about the Business Institute visit www.aginganddisabilitybusinessinstitute.org, email businessinstitute@usaging.org or consider contacting Marisa and her team. 
 
USAging’s Aging and Disability Business Institute Team

Final FY 2024 Appropriations Bill Level Funds OAA, President Expected to Sign

Today, the House passed the second of two appropriations packages to fund the federal government for FY 2024 today, six months after it began. USAging expects the Senate will pass the bill swiftly, either late today or early Saturday, and send it on to the President to be signed into law. If the bill is signed into law Saturday, the federal government will technically suffer a partial lapse of funding, but only for a few hours, and as such would only have a limited impact on government operations.  

The package includes $1.2 trillion in funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes ACL, as well as all other remaining spending bills for FY 2024. Aging programs under the Older Americans Act and other key areas remained mostly level funded, with small increases to congregate and home-delivered meals only, at the expense of NSIP. For a full breakdown of the bill and the final FY 2024 funding levels for key aging programs, please consult USAging’s appropriations chart

USAging Spotlights AAA’s OAA Reauthorization Concerns in Senate RFI Response

On March 21, USAging submitted a response to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s request for information (RFI) concerning the 2024 OAA reauthorization. USAging’s response covers all of our OAA Reauthorization Recommendations and in particular goes into detail concerning contracts and commercial relationships, maintaining flexibilities for nutrition services, social isolation resources and our concern about proposals to inappropriately elevate senior centers.

Did your agency submit a response to the Senate HELP Committee’s RFI? Please share a copy with USAging’s policy staff at policy@usaging.org

It's a Wrap: Largest Ever APB!

Our 30th annual Aging Policy Briefing was a huge success—building momentum at a critical moment for the Aging Network. The largest group of advocates ever joined us in Washington to meet with members of Congress and hear from key leaders. Some highlights:
 
  • ACL’s Alison Barkoff on the President’s FY 2025 budget just released this week.
  • CMS’s Meena Seshamani on the importance of addressing the social needs of Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Key Hill staff members on what to know about OAA reauthorization.
  • Other pressing issues covered—Medicaid HCBS, housing and homelessness, caregiving and social engagement.
  • Aging and Disability Business Institute deep dive on navigating social care payment landscape.
  • Instagram highlights!
 
Attendees also gathered for a festive Capitol Hill reception sponsored by Amazon, where we announced a new partnership with Amazon Ring.
 
Thank you to all who made the trip to DC. We hope to see even more of you next year! (Dates coming soon.) In the meantime, it’s full speed ahead on advocating for OAA reauthorization. Find USAging recommendations and advocacy toolkit here.  

#USAgingHere4You: Sara Tribe-Clark

Sara Tribe-Clark joined USAging in 2019 and serves as Director of the Eldercare Locator and the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL). In her role, Sara oversees the operation of both national call centers, ensuring connection of older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers to community resources.
 
Sara has had an extensive career in the aging field with her interest beginning when she was a child. “Since I was a child, I always gravitated toward older adults. I had awesome grandparents and chose volunteering at a local nursing home for my high school service project. I didn’t love the setting, but I loved the residents, and continued to visit them in the summers and holiday breaks for years after graduating from high school.”
 
Her first job was as a case manager at Boston Senior Home Care. Sara also held various internships across the Aging Network in Boston while she obtained her MSW with a focus on gerontology and non-profit management. She had similar positions at organizations including various Massachusetts AAAs, Springwell, ADvancing States and DC’s AAA/SUA before she landed at USAging.
 
Since getting started at USAging, the most important thing Sara has learned is to not assume what people and groups want or need, but to empower them and improve the quality of your product by bringing stakeholders into the process. She’s done a lot of work on partnership among aging and disability organizations and wants members to know she can help them in a variety of areas such as identifying starting points and partnership opportunities or coordinating a team to help I&R programs think through aging and disability I&R call center processes, QA and management and software decision points.
 
“Through advances in data collection and reporting I am hoping to show members in the aging network the volume and demographics of referrals provided by the Eldercare Locator and DIAL. Also provide a model for aging and disability I&R call center operations that others can replicate.”
 
One thing that most people don’t know about Sara is that she was a guide for a blind triathlete from Virginia in a triathlon in which she qualified for the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. Her favorite books are Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and Being Heumann–An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann.
 
To learn more about the Eldercare Locator and DIAL, visit eldercare.acl.gov and dial.acl.gov, or consider contacting Sara at stribeclark@usaging.org.  

Going to ASA’s On Aging 2024 Conference?

Going to ASA’s On Aging 2024 Conference? Be sure to say hello to us at Booth #601 and check out USAging’s staff sessions!
 
Aging Network Trends and Innovations: Highlights from the National Survey of Area Agencies on Aging
Monday, March 25, 8-9 AM PT
Franciscan A
 
Dementia Friendly America: A Growing Network and Clearinghouse of Resources
Tuesday, March 26, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM PT
Union Square 17-18
 
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) Directors and Staff Networking Group
Tuesday, March 26, 6-7 PM PT
Yosemite C
 
Addressing the Mobility Needs of Marginalized and Underserved Communities
Wednesday, March 27, 8-9 AM PT
Location: Aging While Black Stage in Imperial Ballroom B
 
DC Round-Up: What Advocates Need to Know Now About Federal Aging Policy
Wednesday, March 27, 9:30-10:30 AM PT
Yosemite A
 
Success! Health Care Contracting and Strategic Partnerships
Wednesday, Mar 27: 9:30-10:30am PT
Golden Gate Ballroom 6
 
The New Toolkit for Early Detection of Dementia: Learn how your organization can address earlier detection of dementia in your community
Wednesday, March 27, 3-4 PM PT
Franciscan C

Congress Funds Medicare Low-Income Assistance Programs, Meets First Funding Deadline

This week, the House of Representatives passed the first of two appropriations packages to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2024 with just hours to spare for the March 8 midnight deadline. The package includes funding for the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment and Transportation-HUD bills. USAging expects the Senate will pass the bill swiftly and send it on to the President to be signed into law. Congress will now begin negotiations on the second appropriations package, which has a deadline of March 22 and includes funding for the remainder of the federal agencies, including Health and Human Services.  
 
In great news, Congress extended authorization and funding for Medicare Low-Income Outreach and Enrollment services through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers (MIPPA) program earlier this week as part of an appropriations bill. The extension runs through December 31, 2024, and is thanks to advocacy from USAging members, the National Council on Aging, and other stakeholders. The status of the program was thrown into limbo late last year when Congress missed the program’s authorization and funding deadline. Thank you to all the USAging advocates who took action repeatedly over the past few harrowing months! We will have to resume advocacy later this summer, but for now, advocates can breathe a sigh of relief.  

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act 
 
On March 7, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing discussing the 2024 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA). USAging President Pam Curtis submitted written testimony for the record ahead of the hearing and USAging policy staff attended. The hearing focused on just a few OAA programs or entities: senior centers and the nutrition program. USAging is working to ensure that the next hearing, expected to be held by the Senate Aging Committee later this spring, will shine a light on the role of AAAs and the wide range of services and supports that they develop and coordinate. It will be critical in this reauthorization for AAAs to advocate strongly with all of their Members of Congress, to educate them on how the Act actually comes together and the AAAs’ congressionally directed and much needed roles. Social isolation and health and wellness programs were raised by the witnesses and the Senators, but again—the focus stayed on how senior centers and meals programs provide those services, not the AAAs and the broader network of other service providers. USAging’s reauthorization toolkit can help your agency message not only our recommendations, but how to educate lawmakers about your work!  

During the hearing, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his intention to include the USAging-endorsed Plan for Aging Act, which would set up supports for states to implement multi-sector plans on aging, in OAA reauthorization legislation. Panelists included Alison Barkoff, leader of the Administration for Community Living, the Florida SUA director, representation from national meals and senior center groups, an academic working on a project focused on health and nutrition (not funded by OAA) and an older adult who commented on her positive experiences receiving OAA services from her local AAA, the Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging in Virginia. 

#USAgingHere4You: Virginia Dize

Virginia Dize joined USAging in 2008 and serves as Director, Transportation. In this role she co-leads the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC; co-administered by USAging and Easterseals) and two projects funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living.
 
Virginia initially began her professional career as a high school teacher but quickly realized it wasn’t for her. With her beloved grandfather as her inspiration, she soon found herself immersed in the aging field.
 
“Early in my career, I worked for a public social services organization where about half my clients were older adults. I found that I loved working with them and found their stories inspiring; even my more difficult older clients were interesting. I then pursued a degree in Gerontology.”
 
What Virginia loves most about USAging is the collegial nature of the organization. There is an openness that starts at the top and trickles down to the rest of the organization as well as a sense of encouragement and a high level of enthusiasm for the work. What makes her most proud is to be a part of making a difference in USAging’s mission by enabling older adults to live and thrive in their communities.
 
“I know that AAAs and Title VI programs are doing great work in transportation which we point out to our transportation colleagues. At the same time, I’d like to encourage AAAs and Title VI programs to get in touch with the transportation team. We want to help in any way we can!”
 
When not working at USAging and helping the transportation team shine a light on the critical role of transportation in enabling older adults to live independently and with dignity in their communities, Virginia likes to read. Her most recent favorite book is River of the Gods by Candice Millard. In addition, her favorite movie is Casablanca.
 
To learn more about USAging’s transportation work and the NADTC, email contact@nadtc.org or consider contacting Virginia and her team. 
 
USAging’s Transportation Team

USAging Endorses Bill on Multisector Plans

This week, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the USAging-endorsed Strategic Plan for Aging Act, which would create a new pilot program under the Older Americans Act to support states’ efforts to implement Master Plans for Aging or Multisector Plans for Aging. The bill would require ACL to award grants to states, territories and tribes to create Multisector Plans for Aging, with up to 65 grants awarded in a five-year span, each worth up to $500,000. These multisector plans are to be broader than the state and area plans on aging in the OAA.  

USAging CEO Sandy Markwood expressed support for the bill in Senator Gillibrand’s press release: “USAging is pleased to support the Strategic Plan for Aging Act. If we are to build a society that values people as they age, we must as a nation plan to improve the ability of older adults to age well at home and in the community. The nation’s Area Agencies on Aging and Title VI Native American Aging Programs have been preparing for our current unprecedented age wave for decades and play significant roles in aging planning in communities across the U.S. This legislation will expand and coordinate with these planning efforts to engage all sectors of society in planning and supporting our historic demographic shift.” 

Contributors

Contributors

USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!