WRAAA History

Western Reserve Legacy Booklet


Laying the Foundations of Aging Services Today

The 1960s saw some of the most significant advances in American aging legislation in the country’s history. The Older Americans Act of 1965 established funding for the most iconic and essential programs older persons receive to this day, such as “Meals on Wheels.” This coupled with the passage of title XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act in that same year led to this period having one of the most enduring legacies of American legislation.

  • Congress passes the Older Americans Act
  • Title XIX prompts Medicare and Medicaid


From Washington to Cleveland

While the Older Americans Act granted funds for essential aging services, its federal scale often made delivering those services efficiently challenging. The Comprehensive Services Amendments to OAA created Area Agencies on Aging to implement OAA services on local levels, which eventually led to the creation of WRAAA in 1976.

  • OAA establishes the Area Agencies on Aging
  • Cuyahoga County creates WRAAA


Transition on the Horizon

The 1980s began with groundbreaking research into the effectiveness of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) that allowed older Americans to transition away from living in nursing homes and into a communal or even home setting. This new frontier led to the foundation of PASSPORT, one of WRAAA’s flagship programs. After long, constructive conversations between the Ohio Department of Aging and the Cuyahoga County Commissioners, WRAAA’s organizational structure and oversight are completely overhauled, emerging as a fully-independent nonprofit organization.

  • Government studies feasibility of moving people out of nursing homes
  • Federal Government establishes a waiver program to help ease transitions from nursing homes to home and community settings
  • Several Ohio counties experiment with new PASSPORT program


Expanding to Disability Services

The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 dramatically expanded the types of responsibilities covered by Area Agencies on Aging. PASSPORT’s expansion into the 5 counties served by WRAAA opened the floodgates for massive expansion as the region’s sole provider.

  • ADA Enacted by Congress
  • PASSPORT expands to Northeast Ohio
  • ODA Establishes Care Choice Ohio
  • Supreme Court affirms rights of people with disabilities to live in community settings


Removing Barriers to Community Living

A decade after the passage of the ADA, national priorities were drawn to targeting and removing obstacles to independent living elderly people and people with disabilities continued to face. Through federal initiatives through the Older Americans Act and Executive Branch, several existing systems underwent overhauls.

  • OAA creates the National Family Caregiver Support Program
  • New Freedom Initiative promotes independence for people with disabilities
  • Ohio Commission to Reform Medicaid is founded
  • WRAAA selected to implement Ohio’s first ADRC project


New Frontiers of Aging and Disability Care

The passage of the Affordable Care Act renewed attention of legislators in reforming the services provided by Medicare and Medicaid. States like Ohio began to experiment with approaches to consolidating these services through programs like MyCare Ohio, which offers one-stop services for Ohioans who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. More recently, WRAAA dramatically expanded the range of services it offers, allowing consumers to more effectively use WRAAA as a “hub” for diverse age and disability-related services.

  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is signed into law
  • Ohio budget includes comprehensive Medicaid reforms
  • MyCare Ohio launched in Northeast Ohio
  • WRAAA contracts with CareSource
  • Grassroots initiative Advocacy in Motion launched
  • HomeFix emergency repair program launched
  • How Sweet it is Diabetes awareness program created
  • HOME Choice Transition coordination services begin