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STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ Chairman MARTINEZ. Thank you, Mr. Roybal. Mr. Chairman, to date we have held in the Human Resource Subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee five hearings. This will be the sixth in a series of hearings to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which expires in September of this year.
And as we draw to the close of this century, one thing is becoming abundantly clear at least to me: that America is poised on the verge of a golden era both in the culmination of our world leadership in democracy and in the growing maturation of our citizens. Yet, worldwide democracy by which we enrich the political and economic aspirations of other countries and other peoples has not necessarily yielded a harvest of human fulfillment in our own land.
A true democracy ultimately empowers all individuals to share in the commonwealth of dignity and self-sufficiency, and while we strive to otect the principles of enfranchisement which enables all people to sow their political destinies, we have been shortsighted to the investment in our own citizenry. We must awake to that challenge of care and vision before it is too late.
Just this past week, the Secretary of Health and Human Services answered that challenge of foresight by taking control of programs and bureaucracies that were within his office and rendered a timely decision of improved services for the families and children in our society. For that bold move, I applaud him and Congress applauds him.
As a part of that reorganization, the Secretary also gave the Administration on Aging a greater independence and elevation in rank answerable directly to him for administration. We also applaud that action.
I hope that this reorganization marks only the beginning of the recognition of senior service and policy needs. I think that the Administration and Congress both can agree that our Nation's senior citizens deserve and desperately need the means to maintain dignity and independence into their golden years.
We are fortunate today to have officials from the Administration, both past and present, to give us their invaluable views on how we should focus or refocus our essential services and policies for our Nation's elders. I look forward, Mr. Chairman, to hearing the testimony of our esteemed witnesses.
Chairman ROYBAL. May I at this time announce that any members who wish to submit their testimony or their opening statement will do so by unanimous consent. The Chair now will recognize the next person to give an opening statement and that is Mr. Fawell.
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS W. FAWELL Mr. FAWELL. Thank you, Chairman Roybal and Chairman Martinez. I join you in welcoming our guests this morning. Today we have the privilege of hearing from two architects of Older Americans Act programs. Dr. Flemming, who had a hand in designing and implementing the original Act, will be sharing his historical perspective with us and will offer his advice on how we can further strengthen the Act in this reauthorization process.
Mr. Bechill also has a long history with programs that serve our elderly citizens and has served a distinguished term as Commissioner on Aging. I look forward to hearing from these experts.
We have another expert here this morning. I am particularly pleased that Dr. Berry has joined us to share her recommendations about the reauthorization. We are all aware of Dr. Berry's accomplishments as Commissioner on Aging over the past several years. Under her leadership, AOA has been aggressive in creating stronger partnerships with state and local providers and in encouraging innovations of programs that are faced with growing demands.
I understand that over the past year Dr. Berry has held some hearings of her own throughout the country where providers and the elderly people they serve were able to speak directly to her about their needs and concerns. I look forward to her sharing with us today the insights that she gained from these efforts.
The Deputy Inspector General also has some insights to share with us this morning. Over the past two years, the Inspector General has been hard at work evaluating a number of AoA issues. Mr. Mangano's office has a well-known reputation for the high quality and objectivity of its work. As you may know, Mr. Mangano, our subcommittee has heard a great deal of testimony about the controversial issue of cost-sharing for in-home programs. I understand that you have just completed a study of state level programs that use cost-sharing to expand those services. I am certain that your testimony on that study will do much to aid our deliberations in this matter.
Mr. York also has much to add to our work today. The GAO studies have focused on how we can improve the aging network's ability to target services for low-income minority seniors, a goal that I believe we all share. I understand that his testimony will address ways to enhance information collection and technical assistance to program planners and service providers, and I look forward to hearing his recommendations on these important matters. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman ROYBAL. Thank you. The Chair now recognizes Mr. Bilbray.
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE JAMES H. BILBRAY Mr. BILBRAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will summarize very quickly my statement. Basically, I am here to support the Older Americans Act as most members of this committee are. I am bothered, however, by the Bush Administration's proposed cuts in the Older Americans Act specifically in Title V which funds the Senior Community Service Employment Program. This program has enabled low income older Americans to help themselves by working and helping others. This program employs seniors all across America and is a successful program as acclaimed by many community and business leaders.
I, along with many of my distinguished colleagues, signed a letter to Chairman Natcher, urging him not to allow this cut to go through. This program is an example of the success of the Older Americans Act, and, accordingly, any cuts in this funding would be imprudent and unwise. I hope that this committee, from the testimony we receive today, will continue to be a strong support for the Older Americans Act and resist all attempts to cut this program which is so vitally needed, and I would submit my entire statement for the record.
Chairman ROYBAL. Without objection, it will be ordered.
Joint Hearing of the Select Committee on Aging
In this Aging Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the older Americans Act I am eager to learn from the testimony of the witnesses here today. I hope that this Committee and the rest of Congress stand behind the older Americans Act to further strengthen its successful programs.
The older Americans Act contains the only Federal programs not based on income levels or other distinctions, rather it was established solely to help all Americans over the age of 60. Unfortunately, it seems that a large portion of America's elderly population is unaware of the programs offered by this Act, particularly the minority elderly. I am hopeful that through the testimony to be given today we in Congress will be able to revise and improve the older Americans Act so that every American over 60 years of age can enjoy the benefits which come from its programs.
I am bothered by the fact that the Bush Administration has proposed cuts in the older Americans Act, specifically in Title V which funds the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This program has enabled low-income older Americans to help themselves by working and helping others. SCSEP employs seniors all across America and is a successful program acclaimed by many community and business leaders. I, along with many of my distinguished colleagues, signed a letter to Chairman Natcher urging him not to allow this cut to go through. SCSEP is an example of the success of the older Americans Act and accordingly any cuts in its funding would be imprudent and unwise.
I stand firm in my resolve to halt attempts to slash funding levels for the older Americans Act, and I support the Act being funded at appropriate FY1992 levels. I also hope that these hearings will provide us with the necessary information to adequately revise the Act so that it will be a more effective instrument in supporting the seniors of our nation.
Chairman ROYBAL. The Chair now recognizes Mr. Barrett.
STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE BILL BARRETT Mr. BARRETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to have with us this morning members from the Select Committee on Aging to participate in our hearing on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. I agree that we have some outstanding witnesses this morning.
I am very pleased that we are going to hear from, once again, Dr. Flemming who did such an outstanding job earlier. As you recall, Dr. Flemming, I was a little late into the last hearing before our subcommittee, and I hope to pick up on that conversation this morning.
I am very pleased also to have a representative from the Administration with us this morning, Dr. Joyce Berry, our Commissioner on Aging. Also, a representative from the Inspector General's Office in the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Mangano. I understand the Agency has just completed a study on costsharing. That is a subject that I have expressed an interest in, and some support for. The results, I think, are going to be very interesting and will certainly add a great deal to our debate in the future on cost-sharing.
Now, Mr. Chairman, as long as this is the last Washington-based hearing of the subcommittee on the Older Americans Act, it appears that this is certainly a matter on the fast track. I hope we will have a chance to debate issues like cost-sharing and data collection issues and other important issues confronting the Older Americans Act. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman ROYBAL. Thank you. The Chair now recognizes Mr. Richardson.
STATEMENT OR REPRESENTATIVE BILL RICHARDSON Mr. RICHARDSON. Thank you, Chairman Roybal. I am here as a member of this committee to see how we can improve the Older Americans Act. A lot of the proposals that the Administration has put forward have become controversial. I am particularly interested in the means testing that has been proposed, and I am concerned about it. I have always been concerned about any means testing when it comes to programs that affect the poor and the elderly, minorities that are targeted. I have had though, Mr. Chairman, in my state some concern about the legal services side of the Older Americans Act, some of my constituents urging that, in effect, we do consider means-tests.
I am a bit apprehensive about that, but as we move ahead in this legislation, I know we will be considering means testing for several of the services: transportation, nutrition, legal services. I am apprehensive about that, but there seems to be a growing view in some areas that we should consider this. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Richardson follows:)