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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.