« PreviousContinue »
and health focuses on younger people. More research needs to be conducted on the health behavior of people over age 65 including the relationships of family, work and retirement. Progress on several demographic and longitudinal studies has been made. This work should continue.
Technology and Aging. There is much that can be achieved by linking new technologies to assistive devices and other consumer products to enhance independence for older Americans. A greater research emphasis should be placed on exploring new uses for technology and how technology interacts with human factors associated with aging.
Geriatric Training. The continued shortage of physicians trained in geriatrics continues to be a major concern. The Alliance strongly supports continued grants for the training of academic leadership in geriatrics and gerontology by the federal government. The Alliance will also do all it can to ensure that the private sector lends its support to this critical area. I am pleased to announce a joint program of the Alliance and the Commonwealth Fund to raise $10 million in private funds for training in geriatric excellence. These funds will serve to complement and enhance federal programs in this area.
There is much more that is happening in the field of aging research today. A great deal of that exciting work is taking place as a direct result of the commitment of this Committee. The challenge of achieving independence for older Americans must remain a top priority for the nation. We simply cannot afford to do less.
Mr. Chairman, I will be happy to answer any questions you other members of the Committee may have.
Senator HARKIN. Thank you very much for your testimony and for being here and for all of your leadership in the past year. The alliance has been a force for positive good. You are really doing some good things.
Mr. PERRY. As have you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator HARKIN. That is because you keep pushing me all the time.
But you have established four centers, right?
Mr. PERRY. Four centers has been authorized and appropriated. Another six have been authorized.
Senator HARKIN. Another six are authorized. So we need to fund those.
Mr. PERRY. That is right. We have had, the Institute on Aging has received over two dozen first-class applications from institutions around the country competing. We hope that you will be able to fully fund all 10 centers this year.
Senator HARKIN. I do not know what we will do. As you know, we will do our best. And I am really interested in the research on keeping people healthy. We have increased life expectancy a great deal, I think, since 1900. In one life time we have increased life expectancy in this country by somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years.
Mr. PERRY. More than that, Senator. It has gone from 50-yearsold to the mid-70-years-old, more than 25 years, which is equal to how much we increased life expectancy in the previous 5,000 years of human history before 1900. It is phenomenal.
Senator HARKIN. That is remarkable. And, of course, now what we see is a lot of the expenditures of money going out for the last few weeks, few months of life. We are living longer and then in those last critical months all the health bills pile up. Again, more research needs to be done in how we keep people healthier during those later years.
Mr. PERRY. Exactly.
Senator HARKIN. În some regard there is not a great deal of secret to it. I mean, exercise, proper diet, cut down obesity, cut down smoking, quit smoking. As I say, with a proper exercise program, with continual blood pressure monitoring and checkups, preventative health measures, we can not only live longer, we can live better.
Mr. PERRY. Precisely. And with more research, we can understand how to prolong the period or to delay the period when the decline sets in and leads to such frailty and dependence. We can push that time off closer to the end of life with better understanding.
Senator HARKIN. Thank you very much.
Mr. PERRY. Thank you, Senator.
STATEMENT OF ELMER C. BARTELS, COUNCIL OF STATE ADMINISTRATORS OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
Senator HARKIN. Next, from the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, Mr. Elmer Bartels.
Welcome to the subcommittee. You are the commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. We appreciate your being here.
Mr. BARTELS. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. It is good to be here. My name is Elmer Bartels. I am commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, that is the State agency in Massachusetts responsible for the public program and vocational rehabilitation and independent living in Massachusetts.
I am also here representing my fellow 50 State directors, the organization of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, our support and perspective with regard to moneys needed in the implementation of the Rehabilitation Act.
I would like to talk just for a second about what it took to get me here this morning. I woke up this morning in Bedford, MA, at 4 a.m. and got out of bed with the help of my wife and we got into our car and took off to the airport. We got there around 6:45 a.m. and flew out of the airport at 7:45 a.m. We got here at 9:30 a.m. The reason I tell that very short story is that I am interested in being able to talk directly to you.
I want to thank you personally for the work that you did on behalf of the Americans With Disabilities Act. I have been an advocate in disability in this country since 1960 when I broke my neck playing hockey. And I was introduced to disability and have known what it means to all Americans who happen to have disabilities of whatever nature.
The Americans With Disabilities Act promises to all of us that we can have full participation in American society. It is the tool to help us do that. It is also the promise that we can, in fact, do that.
In my own life, I have had the opportunity to work in the private sector and now I work in the public sector as the State director. I have a family. I live in the community and I own my own house. I have been able, through my own efforts and the efforts of the Rehabilitation Act and laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that are now national laws, to be able to live independently and to work. So I know what the Rehabilitation Act stands for. I know what the Americans With Disabilities Act stands for.
And I come here to ask you, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to consider fully funding the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which is one of the major pieces of legislation in this country that helps those of us with disabilities to live independently and to go to work.
We are asking that the public program in vocational rehabilitation be funded at $2.5 billion. That is a significant increase. But it recognizes both the promise of the American With Disabilities Act and it recognizes the high unemployment amongst people with disabilities as identified in the Harris poll that was done a few years ago that documents that 75 percent of the people with disabilities in this country are unemployed.
I would also like to note that based upon our figures we are serving only 1 in 20 people with disabilities who could benefit from the vocational rehabilitation program.
There is need out there in this country to serve people with disabilities to go to work. And the rehabilitation program is there to do it. It has a long history of accomplishments. The counseling and guidance and placement process of the vocational rehabilitation program is tried and true. It serves over 1 million people with dis
abilities in this county and with $2.5 billion it could serve another 500,000.
Also, the comprehensive services program for independent living is vitally important. That program was added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1978. And those of us that were advocating for that addition to the Rehabilitation Act looked to it to create opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently in their own community.
However, that program has never been reasonably funded. One could say it has never really been funded at all. We are asking that $100 million be allocated to comprehensive services for independent living, title VII, part A of the act. That is what was promised back in 1978 and we are now in 1991 and we are now, again, asking for that level of appropriation for comprehensive services for independent living.
We know it can work. We have done it with the independent living centers. We have done it with the small amount of moneys that have been made available to us in the last few years under title VII, part A; $13 million is merely not a reasonable target in terms of providing a national program.
Senator HARKIN. You are asking for $100 million.
Mr. BARTELS. We are asking for $100 million. This year there is $13 million in title VII, part A. We know how to do it, we just need to get about the business of doing it, to carry out the promise of ADA.
Now this major infusion of moneys is well-contemplated and is compatible to the Americans With Disabilities Act and the fact that there is high unemployment amongst people with disabilities and the fact that we are serving only 1 in 20. It is reasonable justification for providing additional, significant dollars to carry out that promise of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
In preparing for my testimony this morning, I thought about a letter that I received this past week from a client of the rehabilitation agency in Massachusetts. I think this is indicative of the type of service that is provided by our counselors who work for us, which represent the Rehabilitation Act in terms of the public program.
And the client says to her counselor:
I have been meaning to write to you sooner and I apologize for not doing so. I want to thank you for everything you have done for me. Just having the opportunity to go to college was a dream that I never thought was possible.
Four years ago I was in the gutter, literally. With your help and the help of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, I can now be a contributing member of our society. I will be graduating this June. I am the valedictorian of our graduating class. I have applied for a job at the local hospital in their x-ray department and I have been hired. I graduate June 1 and I start work full time on June 3. Then I can start to give back some of what I have been given.
Sometimes, Fran, I cannot believe this is all really happening to me. But it is and it is wonderful. My first 50 years of life were never as happy as these last 4 years of sobriety have been. I owe so much of this to you. I know that it is your job, Fran, but if you had not treated me as well as you did, I know that I would never have come back for another appointment. So you see, you have had a lot to do with all of this. And I am so very, very grateful.
You had faith in me when I was not sure I had faith in me. You encouraged me when I needed that boost you gave me. I will never forget you and I will be eternally grateful.
P.S. One more good thing, Fran, I met a wonderful man in the program of AA and we are to be married in June. His son was in the war and will come home for our wedding. It don't get no better than that.
That is what the Rehabilitation Act in this country stands for, counselors in the field working with clients who want to go to work and have disabilities. I wanted to pass on that story to you because it was meaningful to me; I thought it would be to you.
[The statement follows:]