Letter to Reauthorize Older Americans Act (OAA)

December 2, 2019

The Honorable Susan Collins
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Collins:

On behalf of the Gary and Mary West Health Institute (WHI), I am writing to thank you and your staff for your tireless efforts to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA). Originally enacted in 1965, the OAA supports a range of vital home- and community-based programs, such as Meals on Wheels and other nutritional support; in-home, transportation and legal services; and elder abuse prevention and caregiver support. Protecting seniors’ access to these services is critical in light of the growing population of U.S. seniors, which is projected to reach 56 million in 2020 and more than 73 million by 2030. We urge your colleagues to support reauthorization of this critical legislation before the end of the year.

Based in San Diego, WHI is an applied medical research organization and part of nonprofit and nonpartisan West Health, which also includes the Gary and Mary West Foundation and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center. Our organizations work together toward a shared mission dedicated to lowering the cost of healthcare to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence.

One of West Health’s flagship programs is the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in downtown San Diego. At the Senior Wellness Center, which is operated by the nonprofit Serving Seniors, low-income seniors receive coordinated care and social support services  – all under one roof. Since it opened in 2010, the Center has served over 1.7 million nutritious meals and has provided more than 10,000 seniors with services they need from the Center’s 30 collaborative partners, including the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center – a separate, onsite nonprofit dental clinic providing affordable oral care to low-income seniors.

We fully appreciate the value of OAA funded programs in enriching seniors’ lives and urge Congress to reauthorize the OAA this year at the highest possible authorization levels. On behalf of the seniors we serve, thank you for your advocacy and leadership.


Shelley Lyford
President and Chief Executive Officer
Gary and Mary West Health Institute