House Committee on Education and Labor Passes Keller Amendment Helping Older Americans

September 18, 2019
Press Release
Expands Older Americans Act Coverage to Fall-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Education and Labor passed an amendment introduced by Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) that would strengthen health care protections for seniors. Keller’s amendment, which passed as part of the committee’s consideration of the Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, adds fall-related traumatic brain injuries to the list of conditions covered under the Older Americans Act.


“The Older Americans Act provides many necessary services to our nation’s seniors, and I’m grateful that the House Education and Labor Committee has taken this important step to strengthen it,” Keller said. “In recent years, there has been a growing body of evidence related to the problem of traumatic brain injuries in seniors caused by falls. This amendment will help in detecting these injuries early and ensuring that seniors receive the care they need as soon as possible.”


“The National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) enthusiastically endorses Congressman Keller's amendment to the Dignity in Aging Act,” NASHIA Executive Director Rebeccah Wolfkiel said. “Too often, older Americans are misdiagnosed, or go undiagnosed entirely, after receiving a brain injury as a result of a fall. This important effort will allow states and community-based service providers to more quickly detect a brain injury and connect older adults with important services and support.”


In 2014, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and accounted for almost half of all traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits.


Four in five traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits in older adults aged 65 years and older were caused by falls, and rates were even higher for individuals 75 and older.


Keller’s amendment adds fall-related traumatic brain injury services to the Older Americans Act’s definition of “disease prevention and health promotion services.” The amendment also allows existing grant programs to cover traumatic brain injury screening and efforts to raise public awareness.


The Older Americans Act is the major federal statute governing the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services for seniors. The law authorizes funds to state and local programs to ensure aging seniors have adequate access to food, transportation, and other basic services.


The Dignity in Aging Act of 2019 is a reauthorization and bipartisan update of the Older Americans Act.


The Dignity in Aging Act of 2019, with Keller’s amendment, passed out of committee with full bipartisan support. It now goes to the full House for consideration.