Older Adults: Federal Strategy Needed to Help Ensure Efficient and Effective Delivery of Home and Community-Based Services and Supports

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), GAO-15-190, May 20, 2015

From the summary:
Five federal agencies within four departments fund home and community-based services and supports that older adults often require to continue living independently in their own homes and communities. The Administration on Aging (AoA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Transportation (DOT), and Agriculture (USDA) provide funds, often through state agencies, to local governments and community-based organizations.

The Older Americans Act of 1965 (the Act) requires AoA to promote and support a comprehensive system of services.

In the three localities GAO visited, local area agencies on aging, assisted by other community-based organizations, took the lead in planning and delivering services and supports for older adults, paid for with a mix of federal, state, and local funding. An Atlanta organization employed home-care aides for older adults and delivered meals. Senior housing developments across the three localities connected more frail residents to in-home services. In San Francisco and Montgomery County, grassroots organizations known as villages provided help with errands. Officials in two localities reported that flat funding of certain state funds, combined with the growing number of older adults, has resulted in waiting lists for affordable housing and in-home services.

The Act requires AoA to facilitate collaboration among federal agencies; however, the five agencies that fund these services and supports for older adults do so, for the most part, independently. GAO’s work on interagency collaboration has found that collaboration is important for federal efforts that involve more than one agency. HHS, through AoA, has indicated that competing priorities for its limited resources prevent it from leading development of a cross-agency federal strategy. However, developing such a strategy could help ensure that the five agencies’ resources for HCBS and supports are used efficiently and effectively.