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I want to thank the Chairmen, Mr. Roybal and Mr. Martinez, for convening this morning's hearing. I would venture to say that the reauthorization of the older Americans Act is the single most important action the 102nd Congress will take on behalf of our 35 million senior citizens.

The Select Committee on Aging knows well that older Americans have much to contribute and much to get out of life. The older Americans Act makes sure that millions of seniors -- regardless of age or income -- are afforded the opportunity to maintain their dignity and remain productive, independent members of the community; and, in the community is exactly where our aging population belongs. Older Americans can take great pride in the knowledge that they are our society's richest source of civic and moral values. Our young people have much to learn from the wisdom seniors have acquired through the decades by triumphing over life's daily trials. All of society is deprived of this wisdom when an older person is institutionalized, and that's why the older Americans Act programs are so important.

Ever since I was appointed to the Select Committee in 1986,

as a freshman in Congress, I have taken a special interest in the older Americans Act. In 1987, I introduced and passed an amendment to Title III of the Act which provided for preventive

health education and screening, Medicare and Medigap insurance
counseling, home injury prevention and other health-related
services. Last year, I hosted a field hearing of the Subcommittee
on Human Services at the Regional Council on Aging in downtown
Rochester, NY. At that hearing, Chairman Tom Downey and I learned
much about the importance of these preventive health services
under Title Ill. We also learned that the future of these
valuable programs is threatened by a continued lack of federal

funding. A statutory funding trigger has prevented the funding of much of Title III. I understand that proposals have been advanced which would eliminate this funding trigger. I am anxious to hear from today's witnesses how the adoption of these proposals would likely affect overall older Americans Act funding and the

operation of already-funded programs.

I am also particularly interested in transportation issues as they relate jointly to the older Americans Act reauthorization and the reauthorization of the Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA). No matter how many wonderful programs and services are offered by senior centers nationwide, they can achieve nothing if seniors are unable to access them.

The key to this access, especially in the many rural areas of . this vast Nation, is transportation. I know that AARP has joined with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging in conducting a comprehensive survey of their membership on transportation issues. This survey will be important to the reauthorization debate; but until that information is available, I would hope that the witnesses here today will address relevant

issues of transportation and the success or failure of

coordination between UMTA and older Americans Act transportation

rograms.

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Again, I thank the Chairmen for calling today's hearing, and I thank the witnesses who have come to share their expertise with the Committees.

STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN WAYNE OWENS

THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT

APRIL 25, 1991

IN 1965 THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT WAS ENACTED IN

RESPONSE TO CONCERN FOR OUR OLDER AMERICANS. NOW, OVER

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT IS THE

MAJOR VEHICLE PROVIDING SOCIAL SERVICES TO OLDER PERSONS

IN THE UNITED STATES. IT IS ONE OF THE SUCCESS STORIES OF

OUR GOVERNMENT - PROVIDING FOR THE FRAIL AND THE WELL

THROUGHOUT OUR COUNTRY. HOWEVER, AS SUCCESSFUL AS

THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN, IT IS STILL IN DIRE NEED OF INCREASED

FUNDING.

CURRENTLY WE ARE SEEING A TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN OUR

OLDER AMERICAN POPULATION. IN MY OWN DISTRICT, THE 60 PLUS POPULATION GREW BY 71 PERCENT AND THE 75 PLUS POPULATION GREW BY 106 PERCENT OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES. BY THE YEAR 2040, OLDER PEOPLE WILL REPRESENT 22 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION NATIONWIDE - APPROXIMATELY DOUBLE OF WHAT IT IS NOW.

WE MUST BEGIN TODAY TO FOCUS ON THIS DRAMATIC SHIFT

IN POPULATION STRUCTURE, ON THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RAMIFICATIONS IT WILL HAVE, AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO BETTER SERVE THE OLDER PEOPLE OF OUR COUNTRY.

ONE ISSUE RECEIVING A GREAT DEAL OF ATTENTION UNDER

THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT IS COST SHARING. MANDATORY

COST SHARING, USING INCOME AS AN ELIGIBILITY FOR PROGRAM

PARTICIPATION, WILL DISCOURAGE PARTICIPATION AMONG MANY

POOR ELDERLY. LET ME RELATE A STORY THAT WAS TOLD TO ME

BY THE DIRECTOR OF THE SALT LAKE COUNTY AGING SERVICES,

SHAUNA O'NEIL, SHE STATES - " THE LAST TIME AGING SERVICES

RAISED THE SUGGESTED DONATION FOR MEALS AT SENIOR
CENTERS, I VISITED EACH CENTER AND EXPLAINED THE COST
INCREASE, EMPHASIZING THAT THIS WAS A DONATION, NOT A
FEE, AND THAT IT IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR PARTICIPANTS TO

COME TO THE CENTER THAN IT IS THAT THEY PAY THE FULL

SUGGESTED DONATION. I EXPLAINED THAT IT IS IMPORTANT
THAT PEOPLE GIVE US AS MUCH AS THEY CAN AFFORD, BUT NO
ONE SHOULD STAY AWAY BECAUSE THEY CANNOT PAY THE FULL
SUGGESTED AMOUNT. AFTER MY PRESENTATION, AN OBVIOUSLY

OLD, VERY FRAIL LADY CAME UP TO ME AND TOLD ME THAT THE

SENIOR CENTER WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF HER LIFE, BUT THAT IN

THE FUTURE SHE COULD ONLY COME TWICE A WEEK BECAUSE SHE

COULD NOT AFFORD MORE. SHE WENT ON TO SAY THAT SHE HAD

NEVER ACCEPTED CHARITY AND WOULD NOT START NOW. IN

FACT, WE HAVE CHARTED A DECREASE IN PARTICIPATION BY THE OLDEST AND MANY WHO WE KNOW TO BE LOW INCOME

WHENEVER WE CHANGE DONATION AMOUNTS. THIS WOULD BE

INCREASED GREATLY BY MANDATORY COST SHARING."*

ANOTHER MAJOR ISSUE OF CONCERN IS THE NEED TO PROMOTE MORE EFFECTIVE TARGETING OF SERVICES TO SPECIAL

POPULATION GROUPS, ESPECIALLY LOW-INCOME MINORITY OLDER

PERSONS. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME OF THE
CONCERNS FROM MY OWN DISTRICT - 3.76 PERCENT OF SALT

LAKE COUNTY'S ELDERLY POPULATION IS MINORITY: BECAUSE
THE MINORITY POPULATION IS SO SMALL IN RELATION TO THE

ENTIRE POPULATION, THE STATE HAS DIFFICULTY RESPONDING TO

TARGETED MANDATES. TO EASE THIS DIFFICULTY, MORE

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE STATES.
RESEARCH AND DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS ON HOW TO

RESPOND TO THESE VERY SMALL POPULATIONS SHOULD BE

INCORPORATED. I AM INTERESTED IN HEARING THE TESTIMONY

FROM THE GAO ON THIS MATTER.

ANOTHER CONCERN STATES HAVE WITH TARGETING IS

FUNDING MECHANISMS. WHILE IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE

. TARGET FUNDING TO CERTAIN GROUPS, WE MUST KEEP IN MIND

THAT WHEN WE STRENGTHEN TARGETED LAW REQUIREMENTS, WE

MUST ALSO STRENGTHEN OUR RESOURCES GIVEN TO THE STATES.

THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT STRIVES TO ASSURE THAT

OLDER AMERICANS LIVE IN DIGNITY AND INDEPENDENCE. WE

MUST CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR ADEQUATE FUNDING AND THE WELL-BEING OF AMERICA'S OLDER POPULATION. I LOOK FORWARD

TO HEARING THE TESTIMONY OF OUR WITNESSES.

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