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COMPREHENSIVE OLDER AMERICANS SERVICES
AMENDMENTS OF 1973 AND RELATED PROGRAMS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 1975
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.O. The subcommittee met at 10:05, pursuant to call, in room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Brademas (chairman of the subcommittee), presiding.
Present: Representatives Meeds, Lehman, Cornell, Beard, Miller, Hall, Jeffords, and Pressler.
Staff members present: Jack G. Duncan, counsel; Robert Agee, staff assistant; and Charles W. Radcliffe, minority counsel.
Mr. BRADEMAS. The Subcommittee on Select Education will come to order for the purpose of further hearings on the operation of the programs authorized by the Older Americans Services Amendments of 1973.
The Chair wants only to observe that this legislation is of great importance to Americans in their later years and that the Chair for one is determined to act expeditiously to extend these important programs in order that the older persons in our society can be assured that the social services, nutrition programs, public service employment and volunteer opportunities supported by this legislation will be continued without interruption.
The Chair will also observe that there appears to be some disagreement developing with respect to the direction in which the Federal Government should move.
Yesterday the subcommittee heard from representatives of the administration who told us that we should lower the amounts authorized for title III of the act, that we should restrict the amounts authorized for research and training, and that we should drop the authority of the Commissioner of Aging to conduct housing and transportation programs for the elderly.
I think I also detected a warning in the testimony of the administration that we should anticipate a presidential message shortly urging
that Congress defer and/or rescind some of the 1975 funds already appropriated for older Americans programs.
On the other hand, we heard from the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, Mr. Perkins, who declared that we should not only continue these important programs but vastly expand then.
Today we have appearing before the subcommittee a distinguished list of public witnesses who will give us their views on the effectiveness of the programs supported by the amendments of 1973 and offer any suggestions for change.
Our first witnesses today are Harry F. Walker, executive director of the Commission on Aging, Maryland president of the National Association of State Units on Aging, accompanied by Louise Gerrard, executive director of the West Virginia Commission on Aging who is the first vice president of the National Association of State Units on Aging.
STATEMENT OF HARRY F. WALKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COM
MISSION ON AGING; MARYLAND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE UNITS ON AGING, ACCOMPANIED BY LOUISE GERRARD, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE UNITS ON AGING, AND PAUL HENDRICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NEW HAMPSHIRE COUNCIL ON AGING
Mr. WALKER. Mr. Chairman, I would like also to introduce Paul Hendrick, executive director of the New Hampshire Council on Aging, member of our legislative committee.
Mr. BRADEMAS. The Chair might interrupt to say that as we have a very large number of witnesses it will be helpful to the extent possible if witnesses will try to summarize the main points that they wish to make and their testimony will be included as if read in its entirety in the record.
Mr. WALKER. Mr. Chairman, the testimony we are presenting today is based on our discussion with a number of State executives in the last several years.
Because key provisions of the Older Americans Act are relatively new, it is too early to evaluate some parts of the program. There is no question, however, that the Older Americans Act legislation is filling a void in services available to the older' men and women of our country.
Our suggestions and comments today are aimed at strengthening some provisions and clarifying others, all with the central focus, as expressed in the act, of assisting our older people to secure equal opportunity to the full and free enjoyment of life.
In general, State units on aging support the area agency. on-aging concept as offering a practical vehicle for bringing services to older adults at the local level, while also serving as a means of generating grassroots support for aging programs.
Because these AAA's are barely 1-year old and are still in the process of evolving into mature units, we do not recommend changes in the legislation relating to them.
We are aware that area agencies are being asked to do a great many things with budgets that often are incongruously small. In some States, these area agencies are one- or two-person operations, yet they carry formidable responsibilities.
A number of State agencies, particularly those in rural areas, are asking for more flexibility in the development of area agencies on aging.
Specifically, they are concerned that after the 15 percent allowed for administration is expended, there are still sections of their States in need of area plans and the services of trained aging personnel.
Often these areas are the neediest in the State, yet under present law, programs can be funded there only 75-25, instead of the 90-10 matching ratio enjoyed where there are area agencies in operation.
We would like to propose an addition to section 304(b), which describes groups acceptable as area agencies. We feel it would be very helpful to allow the State agency to establish a local advisory councii, and assign a State agency staff member to work in that area in very much the same way as the area agency. This would be an interim arrangement until the local area could itself establish an acceptable area agency.
The States have found title IV-A training funds made available to us this year by the Administration on Aging useful. The funds have enabled us to carry out training for the title III and title VII staffs.
Many area agencies were involved in planning and training, and we reached members of advisory committees and other people working with the elderly or concerned about them, many of whom had never had the opportunity for such instruction before. Colleges, including community colleges, were involved, again often for the first time.
The flexibility with which these funds could be used is appreciated. Short-term training in a particular part of the State, or for a special group, is best done by the States.
The National Association of State Units on Aging strongly supports the development and operation of senior centers. Since title I of the 1974 Housing and Urban Development Act now includes provision for the acquisition, purchase, construction or renovation of property for senior centers, we are encouraging senior groups to work through and with their local planning and political units of Government to harness these 100 percent Federal grant services available under the HUD act for this purpose.
This new procedure will be a slow but steady educational process before senior groups have effective and fair access to this source of capital funding. Title III, and indirectly title VII, allow for partial financial support of such senior centers through the operation of senior service and nutrition programs in such centers.
We mention this because we are not prepared at this time to ask for funding for purchase or renovation of senior centers under title V of the Older Americans Act.
We are going to poll the States on this and will be preparing a more detailed statement and will address this issue in more detail.
Title VII. The nutrition program is one of the most successful and popular programs for older people to emerge in recent years.
Unfortunately, it reaches fewer than 5 percent of those who are eligible. Without elaborating on the obvious effects of inflation on the program, we hope that the Congress will not support any effort to reduce or impound any part of the $125 million appropriated for fiscal 1975.
Although NASUA has testified previously about the need for States to be allowed to use up to 5 percent of their title VII allocation for administration, State units on aging generally applaud the new administrative allocation proposed by the Federal Council on Aging, which increases the minimum allotment any State gets from $160,000 to $200,000 believing this would make it possible to cover both title III and title VII administrative costs, leaving all nutrition funds for that program.
The formula as submitted presents a more realistic minimum for small States, but in order to prevent cutbacks to larger States, the 10-percent increase over the 1975 funding level for the other States is also imperative.
Too, as States get new and additional responsibilities, there should be a proportionate increase in the administrative allotment.
ACTION. Concerning older American volunteer programs, specifically RSVP and foster grandparents, we feel that Congress should return responsibility for these to the Administration on Aging.
These programs are for older Americans and should be a part of the overall planning process carried on by State and area agencies in developing the annual operating plan. ACTION operates under separate guidelines, quite often with limited coordination with the State agency.
The foster grandparent program, which was once in the Administration on Aging, was transferred to ACTION under the mantle of a volunteer program. We cannot agree that foster grandparents are volunteers.
The grandparents are recruited from the low-income elderly, the socalled stipend being, in reality, an hourly wage. Because they are called volunteers, they are being deprived of the minimum wage. They are being paid $1.60 an hour under ACTION's guidelines, while older men and women in similar financial circumstances get work under other manpower programs at $2 or $2.10 an hour. It is difficult for the grandparents to understand why this is so, and it is difficult for us to understand as well.
The creation of volunteer activities for older persons is, in our view, a program to benefit the older person as well as provide service to a community agency. Of the two, the interest of the older person comes first, and justifies the program being administered under the Older Americans Act.
Although we have no supporting data, it seems likely that the overall administrative costs for the two programs would be less if administered by the Administration on Aging, and funded to the States in the form of block or formula grants.
Nursing Homes. We have long been aware of suspected abuses and neglect of patients in American nursing homes. The recent report of the Senate Special Committee on Aging titled “Nursing Home Care in the United States: Failure in Public Policy," and the subsequent publicity surrounding it, have confirmed the existence of serious and disgraceful mistreatment and neglect of aging persons in some of these homes.
In our opinion, it would be appropriate and desirable for the Older Americans Act to provide incentives to State units on aging to establish within their agencies effective and responsible nursing.
Such incentive could be provided by amending title I, section 101, article 4 of the Older Americans Act by adding the words and "and humane care immediately following full restorative services and humane care for those who require institutional care."
Although unemployment rates of middle-aged and older workers are significantly higher than their percentage of the population, agism is very evident in manpower programs which are not mandated by the Congress as being specifically for older workers.
To our knowledge, there is little or no collaboration between the Administration on Aging and the Department of Labor on the new CETA program.
We would like to see this committee write language into the appropriate legislation which would require the Secretary of Labor and State manpower offices to involve the Administration on Aging and State age units in a meaningful way in decisions on allocations of jobs.
It seems to us it would be fair to require at least a certain percentage of public services jobs be reserved for the middle-aged and older men and women of this country who need the work and who could do a most satisfactory job.
The Special Employment Assistance Act of 1974 has provisions for part-time workers and specifically prohibits discrimination because of age. Further steps may be necessary to assure that these jobs become a reality for older Americans.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes our testimony.
We appreciate having this opportunity to present our views to the committee.
[Prepared statement follows.]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HARRY WALKER, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF STATE UNITS ON AGING (NASUA) My name is Harry Walker, and I am President of the National Association of State Units on Aging. I am also Executive Director of the Maryland Commission on Aging. I am accompanied by Dr. Louise B. Gerrard, Vice-President and legislative committee chairman of the National Association of State Units on Aging. Dr. Gerrard is Executive Director of the West Virginia Commission on Aging.
Mr. Chairman, because we did not have time to poll the states before this hearing, what I am presenting today is our best thinking, based on discussion with a number of state executives the last several days, and our continued experience with the Older Americans Act. We are sending this testimony to all states, Mr. Chairman, and you will be hearing from those state executives who want to add to our testimony or differ from it.
Because key provisions of the Older Americans Act are relatively new, it is too early to evaluate some parts of the program. There is no question, however, that the Older Americans Act legislation is filling a void in services available to the older men and women of our country.
Our suggestions and comments today are aimed at strengthening some provisions and clarifying others, all with the central focus, as expressed in the Act, of assisting our older people to secure equal opportunity to the full and free enjoyment of life.
Title Ill. In general, state units on aging support the area agency on aging concept as offering a practical vehicle for bringing services to older adults at the local level, while also serving as a means of generating grass-roots support for asing programs. Because these AAA's are barely one-year old and are still in