Each May, the Administration for Community Living celebrates Older Americans Month. The theme for 2021 is "Communities of Strength," and I can’t think of a better description for our older adults here in Orange County. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for all of us, and our older neighbors have dealt with some of its worst challenges. I strive to honor them every day through my work in Congress.
No one deserves to be cheated, including older Americans. In observance of National Senior Fraud Awareness Day on May 15th, I’m hosting a town hall to better equip seniors with the tools they need to fight scammers. As a longtime consumer protection attorney, I’m continuing to fight for adequate funding for the Senior Medicare Patrol Program, which trains volunteers to help older adults identify scammers, but I’m hoping this town hall will be useful in the meantime. Our team is still finalizing the details, which will be made available on our website’s town hall page soon.
Listening to and learning from older Americans in our community is incredibly important to me. As a newly elected member of Congress, I held one of my first town hall events specifically for Orange County’s older residents. During the pandemic, I have maintained my commitment to listening to their concerns and connecting them to resources they need. I held a Facebook Live discussing options for local food assistance and a telephone town hall teaching folks how to protect themselves from Medicare fraud.
One of my first town halls as a member of Congress focused on hearing directly from older Americans in our community.
Medicare and Social Security are lifelines for so many seniors, so I’m working to strengthen them. I recently introduced the Medicare Economic Security Solutions Act, which would cap Medicare enrollment penalties levied on seniors who defer enrollment in Medicare Part B until after their 65th birthday. I am proud to lead this bipartisan bill, which will end long-standing, unfair practices that hurt older Americans.
You can count on me to fight for older Americans in Orange County to have the tools they need to age with dignity in their communities. In March 2020, knowing that older Americans are particularly at-risk of contracting a serious case of COVID-19, I introduced the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act. This legislation, which increases funding for care coordinators who help older adults with daily tasks, passed the House of Representatives in May 2020 as part of the HEROES Act.
I know that additional resources are needed to help older Americans live more comfortably in their homes. That’s why I reintroduced the bipartisan Family Savings for Kids and Seniors Act, which would more than double the amount that families can put aside pre-tax to pay for care of older family members. I also know that an unfair system currently prevents seniors who have paid into health savings accounts for years to use these funds for assistance with tasks like bathing and taking medications. I recently reintroduced the Homecare for Seniors Act, which would change that by allowing older Americans with health savings accounts to use these funds for qualified homecare expenses.
Finally, I know that we must protect our older Americans’ ability to secure and keep affordable housing. In April of this year, I joined my colleagues in the House and the Senate in a letter to President Biden asking him to guarantee Housing Choice Vouchers for all eligible Americans, allocate $70 billion to address the Public Housing repair backlog, and provide $45 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund per year.
I hope that every older adult in Orange County knows that their needs are among my biggest priorities, during Older Americans Month and always. To stay up to date on how I’m representing you and California’s 45th District, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @RepKatiePorter
Very truly yours,
Member of Congress