« PrécédentContinuer »
appropriate improvements. We have received that State input and are
sharing it with members of the Task Force. As the Task Force meets
over the next several months, the members will consider ways to
improve reporting and the use of service data both in light of past
experience and in view of priorities which the Congress expresses
during the reauthorization process.
The findings of the needs assessment study together with
information from the Program Performance Reports and my own
personal experience which indicates the extent of the need of older
persons which cannot be met solely through federal resources. As a
result, I have initiated the National Eldercare Campaign.
In January, I announced the National Eldercare Campaign. This
Campaign is a nation-wide, multi-year effort to mobilize resources to
assist older persons at risk of losing their self-sufficiency.
Our Plan for Action calls for:
public awareness strategy, to alert the public to the need for
individual and collective action to address the unmet needs of
today's older persons and to prepare for the challenge of an
increasingly aging society;
an organizational outreach strategy to broaden the base of
existing public, private and voluntary involvement and support
to assist older persons at risk, now and in the future; and
a coalition building strategy to encourage communities across
the nation to use the full range of public and private resources
available to them to respond to the need for in-home and
community based services for older persons at risk of losing
In recognition of the importance and value of securing multiple
resources in order to meet the needs of all older persons, the
Administration on Aging has placed increasing emphasis on the
development of public/private partnerships over the past several
years. Private corporations frequently, and appropriately, look to the
aging network as a consultant, focal point for benefit entitlement and
service information, and, in some instances, a provider of certain
benefits offered to corporate employees and their older relatives. A
basic mission of State and Area Agencies on Aging is to foster the
development of comprehensive and coordinated systems of services
for all older persons. They must include all types of services and
resources, both public and private, which are available to service
older persons. It is my greatest hope that through renewed
involvement of individuals, organizations and associations in the
pubic, private and voluntary sectors, we can shape a societal
commitment and response to the goal of providing dignity and
independence in old age.
In summary, the Administration on Aging is keenly aware of the
major issues being discussed as we approach this reauthorization.
The Administration on Aging continues to take timely actions to fulfill
the requirements of the Act relating to assurance that while services
made available to all eligible older Americans, preference "is given to
providing services to older individuals with the greatest economic or
social needs, with particular attention to low-income minority
Mr. Chairman, we look forward to the continuing debate on these
vital issues. This concludes my prepared remarks. I understand that
you have a number of questions which I will be pleased to address.
Chairman ROYBAL. I will start out the questioning for the next 5 minutes. The first response I would like to have from you is your opinion on how you would improve the Older Americans Act and the services that are provided to the needy. That, Dr. Berry, should take 5 minutes. ·
Ms. BERRY. I believe that we have to provide greater flexibility to the State Agencies on Aging who are faced daily with the task of serving the growing numbers of seniors. Certainly, the demographics speak to the fact that we have to broaden our base and involvement only aging advocates, but those outside of the aging arena in forming new partnerships in terms of public/private assistance.
I am concerned that we not place limitations on state directors as they try to implement policies and programs to impact on the waiting lists particularly for in-home services. We know that the number of the “old old” is increasing. I am particularly concerned as well with some of the housing situations of older persons across the country. Many seniors moved into public housing facilities some years ago and do, in fact, need supportive services. It is critically important that our network reach out to those vulnerable seniors. Certainly we have to think in terms of targeting services. Quite frankly, I believe that targeting and cost-sharing go hand in hand in the sense that, with the scarcity of resources we confront, we have to make sure that available resources go to those who are most needy; so I am particularly concerned that the Commissioner be assigned this authority to approve the intrastate funding formula and that States have the option of cost-sharing.
Chairman ROYBAL. Dr. Berry, one of the things that is creating some problems regarding an individual's status and gratification for Older Americans Act programs is the matter of cost-sharing. You are advocating, I understand, cost-sharing instead of voluntary contributions. Is that correct?
Ms. BERRY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I am proposing, based on the presentations at the forums, that the state directors on aging be permitted the option of asking those seniors who can pay to share in the cost of the services. I favor self-declaration as the way to get information regarding income. I certainly want to set up measures to protect the dignity of older people.
Chairman ROYBAL. Well, I agree with that, but the word "mandatory” is not exactly the same as the word “voluntary." Can you then calculate at this time what additional revenue you will generate from mandatory cost-sharing above the current voluntary collections?
Ms. BERRY. I don't think any estimates of the revenues to be gained have been made at this time, Mr. Chairman. I think the issue before us is whether or not we can continue with business as usual in light of the growing numbers of older persons in need.
Chairman ROYBAL. But if the business is good, why should you change it?
Ms. BERRY. I would respectfully submit for your consideration, Mr. Chairman, the fact that we do have growing numbers of seniors who are in need of additional services. Our voluntary contributions help with that. We have contributions which total close to $200 million a year. The Administration on Aging is taking an active role in trying to step up contributions.