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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;
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.
you woulde would like tuestioning for the
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.
Chairman ROYBAL. All right. You know what you are getting in voluntary contributions now, but you have not made an estimate of what you would receive if you made it mandatory.
Ms. BERRY. I think our experience with voluntary cost-sharing programs would lead us to expect that the level of voluntary contributions will continue to grow. Contributions in the 36 States that are now administering cost-sharing programs with non-Older Americans Act resources do, in fact, show some gains. In these States there has been no negative effect on targeting. The resources that are provided by cost-sharing are used to expand services. I don't think anyone would argue effectively that we are looking for an onslaught of new resources from cost-sharing. I think the issue is whether or not those seniors who can pay should do so. As you know, we do serve many seniors who are not poor.
Chairman ROYBAL. Sure. Ms. BERRY. The issue is whether or not we should ask them to share.
Chairman ROYBAL. It is confusing to me to find out just exactly the Administration's viewpoint on the issue of cost-sharing. First of all, I think it is acknowledged that seniors don't want charity. I have seen this over and over again in the various organizations I go to in my own district, and they tell you right out, “We don't want anything for nothing."
Ms. BERRY. We hear the same thing in our talks with older persons.
Chairman ROYBAL. “We want to be able to pay according to our income." If that is the case and if the voluntary collections at the present time are going well. What happens if a change is made? If the senior citizen is like I am, I wouldn't necessarily respond to something mandatory along those lines. I just wouldn't go to that organization. Ms. BERRY. Well, I would agree
Chairman ROYBAL. Aren't you afraid that you would lose some senior citizens and maybe hinder the program?
Ms. BERRY. The information that we do have does not lead us to believe that seniors would limit their participation in the programs because of the cost-sharing that we have proposed. We have a number of network officials who have gone on record, persons like Jane Gould, State Director in New York, Fay Washington, the Area Agency Director in Los Angeles, and Jeannette Takamora. There is a host of network officials who, as I have mentioned, are just as concerned as all of us are about making sure that there is a true balance out there between meeting the needs of older people and not placing an unfair burden on these seniors.
Chairman ROYBAL. Dr. Berry, my time has expired, and I should not be saying this to you, but I will since I have got the floor at the moment. On many occasions I visited senior citizen centers and happened to be there for lunch. I have seen individuals come in and pay the full amount, and in one particular instance I remember, it was 60 cents. I saw others come in and only put in a quarter, and in talking to these people, they said they didn't want anything for nothing, 25 cents was all they could afford, and they made their contribution, and they felt at least they paid for some
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