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AAHA is pleased to submit written testimony to the House Select Committee on Aging Committee and the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Education and Labor for the record of the hearing held April 25, 1991 regarding "Proposed changes to the Older Americans Act: Impact on Participation and Service Delivery."
The Older Americans Act has become an increasingly important vehicle in filling home and community-based service gaps in the long term care continuam due to the rapid growth of elderly individuals and because of the lack of a comprehensive federal long-term care system.
In an effort to improve the effectiveness of the Act, AAHA recanmends using increased ambudsman funding for state ambudsman services to further educate and inform ombudsman of the complexities of nursing home operations and regulatory requirements. AAHA further supports the use of elder abuse prevention funds to train and educate community-based advocates in an effort to prevent elder abuse in unregulated community-based settings where the majority of abuse occurs.
To improve targeting efforts, AAHA recommends including the intra-state funding formula in the state plan for Secretarial approval, establishing a panel to make recommendations regarding more effective targetting strategies, and developing linkages between Federally-assisted housing and supportive services provided by the Act.
In consideration of the growth of aging-related issues, AAHA supports the White House Conference on Aging and recommends that it remain under the direction of the Administration to sustain the importance of aging-related issues at the highest level of visibility. AAHA also recommends that the Administration move expeditiously to begin the planning and preparation required for a national conference of this magnitude.
Finally, AAHA supports the right of the elderly, as well other populations with special needs, to be served in settings appropriate to their needs and preferences, based on the availability of need-specific programs. Further, AAHA supports federal funding of programs to assist special need populations, including elderly and non-elderly. The Association seeks clarification of the Age Discrimination Act which was enacted as part of the 1975 QAA Reauthorization to ensure that age continues to be an appropriate factor for admission to facilities whose mission is to serve the elderly.
ALDER AMERICANS ACT REAUTHORIZATION TESTIMONY
The American Association of Homes for the Aging (AAHA) is a national, nonprofit association representing over 3,700 not-for-profit facilities providing health care, housing, continuing care retirement, and community services to more than 600,000 older individuals every day. Seventy-five percent of AAHA homes are affiliated with religious organizations, while the remainder are sponsored by private foundations, fraternal organizations, government agencies, unions, and community groups.
AAHA is pleased to submit written testimony to the Subcommittee on Aging of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee for the record of the hearing held April 26, 1991 regarding current and potential roles of the older Americans Act (QAA) and the Aging Network in home and community-based care.
The QAA has become increasingly important in meeting the social and human needs of the elderly since it's initial enactment in 1965 due to the vast growth in the elderly population. When the Act was passed in 1965, there were approximately 17.5 million elderly individuals over the age of 65, according to the Statistical Handbook on Aging Americans. According to the U.S. Burreau of the Census, the 65 and over population will expand from 12.7% of the population (31.5 million persons) in 1990 to 21.8% (67.5 million) in 2050. Subsumed in this growth are individuals 85 years of age and over. This age group, the fastest growing segment of the elderly population, is expected to quadruple by the year 2030, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
In the absence of a comprehensive federal long-term care system and because of the institutional bias of existing federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as the numbers and percentage of elderly continue to grow, the Act will become an increasingly important vehicle in filling home and community-based service gaps in the long-term care continuam. In view of the significant role the Act plays in providing much needed long term care services that otherwise would be unavailable, it is vital that the Act receive full, continued funding for the variety of home and community-based services it supports. Additionally, any new programs created under the Act should not undercut existing programs.
The 1991 reauthorization of the QAA provides AAHA the opportunity to clarify several issues affecting AAHA members: (1) the purpose of the ombudsman program and the role of ombudsmen in nursing home advocacy; (2) the intent of the elder abuse prevention program regarding community-based and institutional advocacy; (3) strategies for targeting QAA services to insure that the intent of the Act to serve low-income individuals is being met and to strengthen linkages between senior housing and supportive service programs;
(4) support for the White House Conference on Aging; and (5) preservation of the ability of senior housing and health care providers to use age as a criterion in admission policies.
Ombudsmen traditionally have functioned as advocates for nursing home residents. FY 1991 appropriations included $2.4 million to fund ombudsman activities (a 40 percent increase over FY 1990 funding). Clarification regarding the role of the ambudsman is critical to determining how new funding for this program should be targeted. The number of ambudsmen and level of training differs dramatically across states. In some cases ambudsmen are professionals who understand the needs of the elderly and constraints under which providers often operate programs. In other cases, they are volunteers with little experience relative to long-term care services and facilities. Furthermore, the relationships between ambudsmen and providers, families and residents vary substantially. In some cases, ambudsmen and providers work cooperatively to ensure that residents' needs are met. In others, the relationships are either adversarial or non-existent.
The increase in FY 1991 funding could be used in several important ways: (1) to strengthen training programs for ombudsmen and the facility staff, families and residents they interact with; or (2) to increase the competency of ambudsman. AAHA strongly supports educational efforts designed to better inform ambudsmen of the complexities of nursing home operations and regulatory requirements. The training requirements currently outlined in section 307 of the OAA are limited to training programs for facilities conducted by ambudsman. We also support education of facility staff, families and residents designed to foster collaborative efforts with ombudsman toward the improvement of resident care.
ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION PROGRAM
The Elder Abuse Prevention program was created to prevent abuse of older individuals. This program was authorized in 1990 and funded for the first time in FY 1991 at $3 million. It specifically provides for public education and outreach services to identify and prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of older individuals. Congress stressed that this program should be designed to complement, not to duplicate, existing programs.
Clarification regarding the use of elder abuse prevention funds is needed. The law provides states discretion in spending these Elder Abuse Prevention funds, stipulating that part of the funding be targeted toward ambudsman activities in long-term care facilities. The Administration on Aging (AA), in a recent draft program instruction sent to State Units on Aging (SUAS), stated SUAS must distribute the new elder abuse prevention funds via their intra-state funding formula to Area Agencies on Aging (AAAS) and recommended the funds be used for public education related to elder abuse.
AAHA strongly supports this instruction. Since the majority of elder abuse exists in community-based settings where care is unregulated, AAHA believes that Elder Abuse Prevention funds given to AAA'S should be used to train community-based advocates including social workers, adult protective
services workers, clergy, legal services staff and others. These individuals should be trained how to identify instances of abuse (physical, psychological, financial) and appropriate remedies for corrective action.
In an indiv.
AAHA also recommends that a technical amendment to Title I - Section 102 of
AAHA supports the instruction from the AOA and recommends conference report language that:
* clarifies that elder abuse prevention funds be targeted toward
training, education and outreach programs directed toward
TARGETING QAA SERVICES
While states have discretion in the allocation of QAA funding, the intent
A 1986 AGA study showed participation rates of the low-income and minority
In an effort to insure the effectiveness of targeting services to low-income individuals, AAHA recommends the following:
o inclusion of the intra-state funding formula in the State plan
for the Secretary's approval;
o clarification and uniformity in the funding formula to recognize
such factors as the increased cost of service provision in rural areas and the percentage and number of minority and low-income elderly individuals in the State;
o require suas and AAAS to set specific targeting goals for all
Title III programs;
o that congress request a GAO study to ascertain the effectiveness
of AA targeting efforts to date and the need for more effective strategies; and the development of a uniform reporting system to track participation rates of QAA participants on an on-going basis;
o increased targeting efforts such as co-location of supportive
services supported under the act (such as, Title III-D in-home
o establishment of a blue ribbon panel to study arrent reporting
requirements and make recommendations to increase the effectiveness
WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON AGING
White House Conferences on Aging were called by Presidents in 1961, 1971, and 1981 establishing a rich tradition of effective, nonpartisan dialogue on issues affecting the Nation's senior citizens. While the 1987 amendments to the QAA state that the President "may call for a 1991 White House conference on Aging, the current Administration has not exercised this option to date. Due to this inaction, congress has responded by introducing legislation this year that would authorize a national conference on aging under the direction of Congress.
In consideration of the growth of aging-related issues, AAHA supports the
o the White House Conference on Aging remain under the
direction of the Administration to sustain the importance