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them identify issues which they feel we should be pursuing in the field of aging; and (2) to explain to them steps that we have taken or contemplate taking under existing law.
I hope that this testimony has helped to provide some understanding of the manner, possibly the spirit, in which we are undertaking to implement the basic concepts incorporated in the Older Americans Act, as amended in 1973 and 1974.
Our experiences to date lead me to believe that the concepts are sound. I recommend that we continue to work on implementing them over a period of the next 2 years. At the end of that period, we will be in a position to determine whether the evidence, growing out of indepth experiences, points to the desirability of making basic changes.
Before questions are addressed for me, I think it might be well for Secretary Thomas to complete his statement, if that is satisfactory.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Thank you very much, Dr. Flemming.
Dr. Flemming has presented an overview of the activities of the Administration on Aging under the present legislative authorities which, except for the title VII nutrition program, expire June 30, 1975.
We believe that these activities have laid a substantial foundation for the work which remains to be done in insuring that the needs of elderly people across the Nation are met effectively and responsively.
To continue this important effort, we seek a 2-year extension of the expiring legislation with certain changes based on our experience to date. This 2-year extension will bring this portion of the act into phase with title VII which expires at the end of fiscal year 1977.
In addition, we would like to see language included in title III similar to that in title VII which clearly and specifically states our desire to provide services on a priority basis to those elderly persons who are most in need—those with low incomes and those who are members of racial minority groups.
Resources for any activity are always limited, and it is critical to insure that such resources as staff, energy, facilities, and funds are directed first toward serving those persons most in need. Adding our proposed language to the title III program would make the intent of title III consistent with the intent of title VII: that the basis of our priorities is need.
We are also proposing that title V, which provides for grants for the acquisition, alteration and renovation, in addition to the initial staffing, of multipurpose senior centers, be allowed to expire. Furthermore, we propose that section 309, providing grants to States to meet the transportation needs of the elderly, also be allowed to expire.
Title V and section 309 impose upon Health, Education, and Welfare responsibilities which are more appropriately carried out by other departments. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has extensive experience and technical competency in the acquisition and renovation of buildings. Indeed, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has authority under the recently enacted IIousing and Community Development Act to make grants to local communities, which they may use to support construction and renovation of multipurpose senior centers.
The Department of Transportation has both authority and funding under the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 and the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1973 to meet the needs of both the urban and rural elderly. As Dr. Flemming pointed out, the Administration on Aging has effected a working agreement with the Department of Transportation which will enable us to work with that Department to meet the transportation needs of the urban elderly. We are currently working on another agreement which will be focused on the transportation needs of the rural elderly. Enough authority exists, we feel, to enable the Department of Transportation, which has more expertise in this area than the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, to move forward in meeting the transportation needs of the elderly, and that Department, with input from the Administration on Aging, is doing so.
We sincerely feel that the changes which I have described will greatly enhance the vitality and responsiveness of our activities concerned with meeting the human needs of elderly people throughout the country. We are submitting to the Congress draft legislation which incorporates the changes I have just outlined.
I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Mr. BRADEMAS. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, and Dr. Flemming.
We are very grateful to you for very useful statements.
Dr. Flemming, I am impressed by the obvious breadth and depth of your efforts to improve this program.
Let me ask you some general questions before I ask some specific
Why, Mr. Secretary, are you requesting a 2-year bill at such low levels of funding? For example, you are asking for $91 million for each of the next 2 fiscal years, as I understand it, 1976 and 1977, which is the same amount as was requested for fiscal 1975? Yet, as you are aware, that figure is $7 million less than Congress appropriated for fiscal 1975.
Are you trying to tell us that you have some deferrals or rescissions in mind in respect to this program?
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Chairman, our authorization request in the new draft bill includes $91 million for area planning and social services but we also ask for authorization of $7 million in the extension of research authorization and $5 million for the extension of model projects authorization. So, our authorization requests in the new bill will equal the amount appropriated by the Congress in fiscal 1975,
Mr. BRADEMAS. For the same purpose ?
I think the President is submitting some comments regarding the appropriated amounts in the fiscal 1975 budget relative to rescissions above and beyond the amounts already transmitted. These will be transmitted to Congress prior to the submission of the 1976 budget.
Mr. BRADEMAS. I am asking counsel to look through these figures so that it is clear that we are all talking about the same categories of items in respect to the budget. I may come back at you after he has had an opportunity to do that.
Naturally, we will look to whatever the President says with respect to deferrals and rescissions in this particular area in which we have a
very keen interest. If he proposes some, I am sure there will be very deep opposition so far as the chairman of this subcommittee is concerned.
Let me ask another question with respect to your proposed changes in the law, Mr. Secretary.
Dr. Flemming, if you want to respond, please feel free to do so.
I note, Mr. Thomas, that you call for an application, in effect, of a needs test, in your statement on page 2. This sounds to me very like the proposal of the administration with respect to Federal student assistance programs.
I wonder if you can comment on what that paragraph means?
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Chairman, we are not at all recommending a needs test for this particular program.
We are trying to bring the language in title III in conformity with the language in title VII of the nutrition project. This means we give special attention and emphasis to low-income minority people within the resources we have available.
At the present time, in the nutrition program, we have a number of nonpoor people participating in the program. But we have been very assertive with the projects in the States, saying that, to the extent possible, they should give preference to meeting the needs of those most in need. But this does not involve a needs test, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BRADEMAS. I am glad to hear that because I would not want to see us move in the direction where we would not only be getting more red tape which is unnecessary but, also, if I may put it bluntly, diminishing the base of political support for the program.
Dr. FLEMMING. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that, personally, I am in complete agreement with the philosophy reflected in title VII.
As Secretary Thomas has indicated, we would simply like to see that same language in title III.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Mr. Secretary, you also urge that title V which authorizes activities in respect to multiple-purpose senior centers, and section 309 that touches on transportation, be allowed to expire.
Are the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation so splendid, have they compiled so superb a record with respect to these activities, that you can approve of that kind of rescission?
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. Chairman, the Department does not have expertise in that particular area.
What we look forward to doing, is to work assertively with the Departments of Transportation and of IIousing and Urban Development to improve their record of provision of services, development of multipurpose senior centers and transportation for the elderly.
We feel we have already laid a foundation for that activity in terms of a working agreement. We feel we can expand on that. We are at a point where we will be encouraging State and area agencies to participate in the formulation of requests from local communities for the construction of facilities or the provision of transportation resources.
Indeed, we have already allocated $20 million to the Department of Transportation with which we have been working to provide transportation services to the elderly.
Dr. Fleming may want to expand on that.
Dr. FLEMMING. Mr. Chairman, I think this does identify a basic issue in terms of the Federal Government's operations in the field of aging.
As you know, I think, I hope that we can bring the various departments and agencies of the Government that have an impact on the lives of older persons to the point where the older persons will receive a fair share of the resources that are made available to them for all groups.
In the housing area, the passage of the Housing and Community Development Act clearly opens up some real possibilities as far as senior centers are concerned. As you know, senior centers are identified in the act as facilities for which funds can be made available.
We right now are working with Housing and Urban Development to develop an agreement which I am sure we will reach under which they send out to their people, we send out to our people, clear indications of what can be done and under which they will urge the people in the housing field to take full advantage of the senior center provisions of the Community Development Act.
I understand what is back of your question and observations. Certainly under other authorities that Housing and Urban Development has had, older persons have not fared very well. There is an earlier authority that could have been used for senior centers that I think was used to å slight degree in previous years but was not used in recent years.
I do think that the passage of the Housing and Community Development Act opens up new possibilities, and I think we really have a chance of getting results for older persons.
In the area of transportation, we can be even more specific. I referred to an agreement which we have reached with the Department of Transportation and Secretary Thomas has also referred to it. Here are the resources that are potentially available through the Department of Transportation for older persons:
First of all, you have section 16(b)(2) of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, as amended. Here, up to now, $20 million has been set aside in this fiscal year for capital grants and loans to private nonprofit agencies and organizations for transportation services for older persons and the handicapped.
As a part of the working agreement which we signed with the Department of Transportation in June 1974, we alerted State and area agencies on aging to the availability of these funds.
Information about the section 16(b)(2) funds that the Administration on Aging transmitted to State and arca agencies was provided by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, including the amount of funds set aside for each State.
State agencies on aging currently are working with the State agencies that have been designated, usually State departments of transportation or highways, to administer the section 16(b)(2) program on criteria for project selection and general planning activities.
We asked for a report on this program. The report is better than I had anticipated in light of what I had been picking up in the field. However, the report clearly shows that additional work has to be done on the program. I have transmitted the results of that report
to the Assistant Secretary of Transportation, General Davis, who is the lead person in the Department of Transportation in the field of aging. He and I will get together to see what we can do to close these gaps.
Then there is section 147 in the Federal Highway Act of 1973 which provides for a rural highway transportation demonstration program. We have been working very closely with the Department of Transportation to get older persons cut into the operation of that act.
Then the National Mass Transportation Act of 1974 mandates that any recipients of capital assistance from UMTA must provide half fares on public transit for the elderly and handicapped. In addition, it authorizes for the first time $500 million for capital assistance in the rural areas.
Then it also authorizes the States to use up to 250 percent of their capital assistance funds from UMTA for operating subsidies. This represents the first time that this has been authorized. This gives us another opportunity to work with the Department of Transportation.
Also, by direction of the Congress, we have prepared a report on aging and the field of transportation. We submitted it on January 1. This was part 1. We indicated that part 2 would be transmitted between the middle of March and the first part of April.
Prior to that, I am going to hold public hearings in four parts of the country to obtain reactions to proposed recommendations,
As far as transportation is concerned, I am very encouraged over the responses we are getting from the Department of Transportation. If we can continue to move forward with this approach it will make available more in the way of resources for solving the transportation problems of older persons than normally would be appropriated for a specific categorical item in an act such as the Older Americans Act.
Mr. BRADEMAS. I appreciate your responses. I wish I could pursue them still further because I have lingering in my mind, Dr. Flemming, an awareness that you gave a very similar sort of response in respect of revenue sharing.
Whenever we talk about a wide variety of categorical programs, we are always told that local people can always turn to the cornucopia of revenue sharing where funds will be available. You know the facts are that they have not been made available.
I am open to persuasion by evidence.
Mr. FLEMMING. Well, I have $20 million that I can present as evidence that we know has been made available in the field of transportation.
Could I say this on general revenue sharing first?
I share your disappointment over the fact that at the local levels the older persons have not receive their fair share. I think, however, that I sense a beginning of a breakthrough as I move over the country and as I hear about projects that are being augmented with revenue sharing.
My feeling is that if revenue sharing is extended again, then local government officials will lose some of their skepticism about whether or not it is going to continue.
Up to now, what I run into, as I am sure you have, are statements by local officials that they are going to put it in brick and mortar because they don't know how long money will be available for services.