« PreviousContinue »
I hope we have bigger and better success in promoting this program at a national level as we go on and as more labor unions are involved. As you probably know, the National Council of Senior Citizens is completely supported by the labor movement and in many areas we work closely with them.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS, INC.,
Washington, D.C., February 14, 1975. Hon. Joun BRADEMAS, Chairman, Select Subcommittee on Education, House of Representatives, Wash
ington, D.C. DEAR MB. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for giving us an additional opportunity to respond to questions regarding our testimony on February 14, 1975.
Attached are more detailed answers to your good questions.
The National Council very much appreciates your concern for senior citizens and we hope we may continue to be of service to you and your committee. Sincerely,
WILLIAM R. HUTTOA,
Executive Director. Attachment:
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS Question 1. Mr. Hutton, your comments concerning the need for an older Americans unit within the Department of Labor are interesting. Can you expand on this idea ?
Answer. The National Council believes the biggest vacuum in the Department of Labor is its lack of response to older Americans. Its manpower programs disregard and even discriminate against older people. No research on older-worker needs and their capabilities or limitations seem to be forthcoming. The statistics on the number of unemployed older workers do not reflect the true problems. New methods need to be devised to break down barriers to employment that older workers face. Research and studies should be conducted to find out what happens to older workers when they are forced out of the labor market.
It seems older Americans are not thought about in the Department of Labor except when the Department is trying to cut its budget. Older Americans need a spokesman at the top level of the Department so that older people and their needs will have an advocate within the Department when it is requesting and allocating funds. There has not been anybody charged with the responsibility of older workers within the U.S. Department of Labor since 1969. The Department's argument against having special categories or interests represented within the Department breaks down as one sees that special needs and interests of Indians, migrants, Veterans, women and ex-offenders are recognized by the Department.
An Assistant Secretary for Older Workers should be established in the Department of Labor. This Office should be mandated to establish administrative procedures and machinery, including personnel having particular competence in this field, for planning, developing and coordinating activities on behalf of older Americans. This Office should be able to request and allocate funds for older worker manpower programs. This Office should also be able to request the Research and Evaluation section of the Department to find new ways to assist the Nation in expanding work opportunities and assuring access to those opportunities by older workers and for devising methods for the removal of the artificial barrier of age in gaining employment. Further, with the emphasis on allocating manpower funds based on unemployment statistics, this Assistant Secretary should be given authority to require that methods be developed for compiling reliable labor market statistics on older workers in and out of the labor market.
Question 2. In your testimony, you suggested that the AOA should direct or assist the Department of Labor with the administration of Title IX. Can you be more specific as to the kind of assistance or direction that you would consider useful to the Department of Labor ?
Answer. The National Council believes the Department of Labor should find the Administration on Aging useful in providing guidance in the following areas:
(a) Special knowledge of physical and mental needs of older workers.
(b) Special knowledge of community services that might be provided to other elderly not enrolled in the program.
The Administration on Aging has alerted Manpower's National Contracts office to efforts for the aging that could be coordinated between the two agencies; i.e., having older workers assist with Title VII nutrition programs.
(c) New developments in rehabilitating the elderly. (d) New developments in national and local programs for the elderly.
(e) A better indication of the numbers of older people that need and desire Title IX type programs and help in location selection.
One of the basic reasons the Administration on Aging should work with the Department of Labor is so that it can provide advocacy for the older worker to the Department of Labor.
Question 3. Do you feel that state and local prime sponsors will ever be able to play a significant role in employment programs for older Americans?
Answer. Yes, state and local Prime Sponsors could play a role in employment programs for the elderly. However, the following steps must first be taken:
(a) The U.S. Department of Labor must be required to set up a position of Assistant Secretary for Older Workers so that the Department can become familiar with the needs of the older worker and techniques of assisting the older workers.
(b) The Federal regulations governing CETA must be revised by the Department of Labor to encourage and help CETA Prime Sponsors work with older people. (See attached for NCSC recommended changes to CETA Regulations.)
(c) The CETA Prime Sponsors must be trained in and become familiar with the techniques needed to administer effective older worker programs.
(d) The U.S. Department of Labor must take affirmative action to include older workers as a segment of the labor force that CETA should be attending to.
(e) Congress must amend CETA to encourage Prime Sponsors to include older workers in their programs. Section (703) (15) of CETA now reads: "The Secretary shall not provide financial assistance for any program under this Act unless——the program makes appropriate provisions for the manpower needs of youths in the area to be served." The Act could be amended to include assistance for older workers in a like manner. Then the regulations could be changed to provide easier implementation of programs specifically scaled to those needs of older workers that are not being met by the general manpower programs that are primarily geared to assist younger workers. With the inclusion of this Amendment, the high placement goals now asked by CETA should be waived so that CETA Prime Sponsors would not fall behind in their effectiveness ratings nor would they feel compelled to push an older worker off their program if the older worker was unable to obtain decent employment in the regular labor market.
In the Budget for Fiscal Year 1976, the Department of Labor does not blame itself for its policy of stressing assistance to the young. “Manpower programs generally target by statute on the poor, the unemployed, the less educated, minorities, youth, and welfare recipents.” (pg. 166, Special Analysis) However, as older people are less educated and poorer than younger people, the Department could, it seems, within the law serve more older people than it now does.
Question 4. How would you distinguish the activities of Senior Aides from those of Foster Grandparents?
Is there any rationale for paying Foster Grandparents less than Senior Aides?
Foster Grandparents are volunteers, 60 years or older who provide supportive services in health, education, welfare and related setting to children in an institutional setting. They operate in a one-on-one relationship.
Senior Aides are paid workers, 55 years or over who provide useful community service work to people of all ages. Like Foster Grandparents, Senior Aides teach children how to read. But they also teach adults how to read and speak English. Senior Aides help clear areas for parks for young people to play in and they help plow small vegetable gardens for elderly who can no longer do the heavy part of gardening. Senior Aides assist ex-offenders with finding jobs, a place to live or orientation back to our regular society. Senior Aides provide elderly shut-ins with home-health services. Senior Aides help staff Title VII nutrition programs. Senior Aides act as Ombudsmen for elderly people who are not knowledgeable about what, where or who could provide them with services they need and are entitled to. Senior Aides work as older worker counselors and job developers. Senior Aides provide transportation for meals-on-wheels and elderly patient visits to hospitals, clinics and doctors.
In other words, the activities of Senior Aides are practically unlimited. The only limits placed on activities are political, sectarian, maintenance of effort, profit, and safety and health of the individual Senior Aides.
As long as the Foster Grandparent Program is a "volunteer" program—a label which would seem inaccurate since the program participants are regularly paid-comparisons of the pay scales for Foster Grandparents and Senior Aides is not appropriate.
Senior Aides are employees, and they pay taxes-income and F.I.C.A. on their 'wages.
Foster Grandparents receive "stipends" which are neither taxable, nor counted as income for benefit programs.
The National Council supports the logical provision of Foster Grandparent legislation that does not allow Foster Grandparent stipends to be counted as "incone" for other poverty programs such as medicaid, food stamps and housing. The National Council would like to see such a provision in Title IX. Howerer, even in view of the forgiveness of participant's stipends in calculating eligibility for other programs, we do not believe that a $1.60 per hour meets any standard of equitable exchange Foster Grandparents services are worth more than the alloted stipend. Further, as Foster Grandparents receive pay for time and seryices, the stipend is really a wage and this wage is far below either the minimum or the prevailing wage rate.
It is also important to continue to provide for older workers employed in these programsopportunities to qualify, through this employment, for Social Security and Medicare. This is denied those who receive only "stipends' and who do not have Social Security deductions.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I would like to place in the record a letter to me from the State of California Commission on Aging, which I think delineates the so-called trail of horrors that senior citizens are required to travel.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Without objection the letter is included and again we thank you for your splendid testimony. [The letter referred to follows:]
STATE OF CALIFORNIA,
COMMISSION ON AGING,
Sacramento, Calif., January 30, 1975. DEAR SIR: The California Commission on Aging, at their meeting on December 12, 1974 in Sacramento, adopted the following Resolution :
Whereas, the impact of inflation has totally eroded and invalidated the purchasing power of the increases in monthly Social Security benefits enacted since 1965 (approximately 80% compounded) and,
Whereas, the cost of Medicare deductibles, co-payments and premiums assigned to the recipient have increased approximately 125% since 1966 with additional increases pending and,
Whereas, the abuses of the Medicare program, Medicaid and its related programs including fraud are contributing to the increasing cost of the program and the lowering of the quality of care and,
Whereas, the record of the present policy on these issues proves the total inadequacy of the "patch-work” approach to remedial legislation, Therefore, be it
Resolved, That this Commission, a duly constituted agency of the State of California, call upon the Congress of the United States to establish a new Na. tional Policy on Aging which will provide a totally comprehensive and equitable program of health care and an assured level of income for the elderly which is commensurate with a standard of living above the acknowledged poverty level and in keeping with the need and with human dignity.
We petition the Congress to rearrange its legislative priorities and put the economic and social interest of American people FIRST, by so doing you can assure a greater degree of comfort, care and dignity to the ever-increasing population of older Americans and, be it further resolved, copies of this resolution be forwarded to all members of the California Congressional delegation, Senators Frank Church, Harrison Williams, Charles Percy and Jocob Javits, and Representative Claude Pepper."
It is apparent that the California Commission on Aging, together with millions of other Americans, is greatly disturbed about recent actions in Washington placing additional penalties on the elderly of this nation.
We know that all of you share our concern and will do everything within your power to correct the situation. We appreciate it. Sincerely,
BOONE RORINSON, Erccutive Secretary.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Our next witness is another friend of the subcommittee, Mr. Jack Ossofsky, executive director of the National Council on the Aging:
Mr. Ossofsky, we are glad to see you and again if you would be good enough to summarize your testimony, principal recommendations, it will afford an opportunity to put questions to you. STATEMENT OF JACK OSSOFSKY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON THE AGING
Mr. OssoFsky. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am accompanied by Daniel Fork, director of public policy for the National Council on the Aging:
Mr. Chairman, in the second week of his holding the office of President, the President invited the representatives of aging organizations to meet with him. We spent about an hour with the President in the company of other organizational representatives, at the end of which I had an opportunity to meet with the press to indicate to them I have sensed a very concerned President, one well-informed on legislation affecting older people.
Between that date in August and today something has happened to that concern, it seems to me. We urged the President at that time not to seek to break the back of inflation on the backs of older people, who are the most vulnerable segment of our society. Today I must say to you we seem to find the older people of our country caught in a vise between rescission and recession. Indeed, nothing in the budget that we see, from a quick reading today, or that we have heard in the course of hearings from representatives of the administration or others, lead us to believe that any concern has been shown whatsoever for America's older people in this current situation. We are a nonpartisan group and we welcome the point of view of the President regardless of his party and the action of all Members of Congress on behalf of older people.
We come before you with pleasure at the fact you have given great priority to the issue of the Older Americans Act and to bring the concerns of older Americans before the Congress so early in this session. I must say, too, Mr. Chairman, we are greatly encouraged by the number of new Members of the Congress who are on this committee and participated so actively in these hearings. We hope that it represents not just a new day for the Congress, but a new day for older people of our country as well and that we will be able in this Congress to see into the kinds of policies being enunicated from the White House, which I am afraid shows there are poor advices being given to the President, if indeed his concern for the older Americans remains true,
Now our organization is a nonprofit organization made up of organizations and practitioners in a field of aging. Our members are largely those who serve older people. We entered the 25th year of our history in 1975 and with the initials of our organization NCO we were hoping the country would indeed take on a national commitment on aging.
Certainly the budget does not seem to give us much confidence in 1975 being a year with a national commitment on aging from the White House.
In anticipation of the deliberations on the Older Americans Act, our own organization has invited its members to submit their concepts and notions about their experiences with the Older Americans Act and our public policy committee of the board is going to be meeting and developing formal policies on the Older Americans Act.
We are holding four, perhaps five regional meetings across the country of people working in fields of aging and of older people and much of that meeting will
focus on the Older Americans Act and how it functions.
On February 6 and 7 we are convening 164 national voluntary organizations, who will be discussing, among other things, the impact of the Older Americans Act in promoting independent living for older people.
This morning the governing body of the National Institute of Senior Citizens with representatives from all regions of the country are convening their national meeting and will be drafting a statement regarding the renewal of this Act as well. Based on all of this information we intend to be in contact with the committee to submit to you further information and further points of view regarding the legislation before you.
In a preliminary way, I would like to read some questions and perhaps and enter a few regarding the experiences with the Older Americans Act.
One of the concerns that is reflected in our testimony, Mr. Chairman, is that the purposes of the Older Americans Act falls into two basic categories, and one is the Administration on Aging is asked to act as a manager of two formula grant programs, titles III and VII in particular, as well as a focal point for the Federal Government on all matters relating to the elderly.
We are delighted with the untiring efforts and dedication of Commissioner Flemming in attempting to carry out those mandates, but we must, at the same time, underscore the fact that without the adequate resources needed to meet the purposes laid out in the act, the Administration on Aging, and Commissioner Flemming, indeed, cannot reach objectives spelled out in title I of the Act.
Perhaps it is worth taking a moment to remind ourselves what that Act was intended to do in title I. The objectives are quite explicit. It spells out the purposes of the Older Americans Act is to help mobilize forces to provide an adequate retirement income, suitable housing, physical and mental health, restorative services, employment opportunities, dignified retirement, the pursuit of meaningful activity, efficient community services, benefits from research and personal independence.
Somehow it seems to me along the way in the last 10 years we have lost sight of the original intentions of the Act. None of us should be deceived by the impressive growth in resources within the Administration on Aging into thinking that the original objectives of the Act have been achieved. Indeed, what we really have done is to allocate substantial new resources for valid new programs, particularly the nutrition program, particularly title III, community coordination, but we have in many instances reduced the funds made available to meet objectives of the Older Americans Act as they appear in title I of that Act.