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Senator EAGLETON. Thank you very much.

[Applause.]

(Whereupon, at 2:15 p.m., the hearing in the above-entitled matter was closed.]

OLDER AMERICANS ACT OF 1978

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1978

U.S. SENATE,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON AGING
OF THE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:05 a.m. in room 6226, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. Present: Senators Eagleton and Kennedy,

Senator EAGLETON. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The Senate Subcommittee on Aging is now in session to conduct a series of hearings on the Older Americans Act.

In the interest of Senator Kennedy's time, I am going to yield to him at this point for his opening statement. Senator Kennedy is perhaps the single most active member of the entire Human Resources Committee and an active member of this subcommittee as well. He has had a long identification with legislation pertaining to America's senior citizens.

OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR KENNEDY Senator KENNEDY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to join all those who will be testifying in this hearing. Thank you for chairing these hearings and for following these issues as closely as you do and for the leadership that you are providing on legislation which has such enormous impact in the lives of the people in my State and all over this Nation, our elderly people.

Today, Mr. Chairman, we open the hearings on the reauthorization of an act whose purpose is to achieve for the older people of this Nation the health, honor, and dignity to which they are entitled.

It is an act which is meant to help provide for the elderly people of this country the nutrition, transportation, community employment, and legal services that they need.

Mr. Chairman, the people who are the direct beneficiaries of this act are the people who built the factories, the cities and the schools

They are the people who fought the wars of this Nation, and they are the people whose taxes have allowed us the freedom to build the kind of society that we want to have. So, finally, this is an act which allows us to say to ourselves that we understand the debt that we owe to those who have built this country for us, and to begin to make good on it.

of this country.

As

you know, Mr. Chairman, this was first passed in 1965 and in 1966, an appropriation of $6.5 million. This year it has an appropriation of over $500 million; this helps support the beginning of an aging network, a group of people, both elderly and concerned for the elderly, who are asking the important questions about the best ways in which we can provide services and are then providing those services.

There are now, as you know, 562 area agencies on aging, and 833 nutrition programs for the elderly and 1,000 multipurpose centers. Over 90 percent of the eligible population is now covered by an area agency

There is a clear need for the services that are provided under the act. The rapid increase in funding is only due to the neglect which preceded it. Over and over we have heard about the millions of elderly persons who cannot get around and look to special transportation to maintain a vital nexus with the world.

We know the people whom an occasional visit by a homemaker helps them remain proud of their residences. We know of the frustration which swells up from unresponsive bureaucracies or the pain encountered when people are shortchanged on their benefits, and therefore, we know of the importance of legal services. We know that nutritional requirements are only met through title VII programs. So, too, we know of the health services, information, education and weatherization services which this act provides to the people.

Some 11 million people a year use Older Americans Act services, over one-third of all who are over 60.

The people who have been funded under this act, and the organizations through which they function, have also been a catalyst for others to turn their attention to the great work which has to be done. They have influenced State and local government. They have influenced private groups from foundations to churches, from Boy Scouts to universities. They have even influenced Congress, which has become more mindful of its obligations and has begun to meet them. Title XX, sections 8 and 202, Housing, Postsecondary, and Community Education and Home Health Services for the elderly have all been authorized since the Older Americans Act. At this moment, Mr. Chairman, I am a conferee on the amendments to the age discrimination in employment legislation, which will protect workers from forced retirement until the age of 70.

During the course of the next several days of hearings on this reauthorization, we will hear testimony on various needs which should be filled through this act. We will hear testimony on the act as a whole and where we are going with it, as well as the general services provided under title III. There will be a day of hearings on title VII of the act, the nutrition provisions that Senator Percy and I sponsored in 1971. These sites now serve over 450,000 meals per day; over 2 million people gain the nourishment and friendship that gathering for these meals provides. There will also be a day of hearings on title IX of the act, Community Service Employment for Older Americans, which I sponsored with Senators Williams and Church as a separate act in 1973 and which became nart of the Older Americans Act in the last reauthorization.

I remember, Mr. Chairman, visiting some of these sites in Fall River, in my own State, and New Bedford, seeing these elderly citizens performing some enormously important functions to help in the community. And the ripples that go out from the employment program, even though it is limited, an expanding program, an enormous impact, and I do not think any of us who have had the chance, as I know you have, to visit these nutrition centers in church basements, in community facilities, cannot help but be enormously moved by the success of these programs.

We will hear from organizations which represent clientele; we will hear from representatives of those who work in the programs; and we will hear from experts who assess those programs.

Mr. Chairman, these are important questions which I hope those who are testifying will address. The first is, to what services to the elderly should the aging network give greater attention? There are a great many needs in the older Americans' community. Some services may be especially critical. The Older Americans Act should be amended to meet demands for those services. I believe that we must amend the act to provide meals-on-wheels to the homebound elderly, and expect this issue to be addressed next week. Today, we will discuss title III.

I believe that there is a critical need to supplement legal services for the elderly and I have introduced a bill, which you are very familiar with, Mr. Chairman, to amend the act to set up a separate title for legal services. That bill is now S. 2394. The reasons why the elderly are so dependent on legal services seem clear.

The Legal Services Corp., the parent organization, which is sponsored by the Human Resources Committee, has not really devoted the kind of attention to the needs of our elderly in terms of the legal services.

We have had an interesting program in my own State, which I know is not dissimilar to other programs, in seeing the very, very important impact that those legal service programs could provide for elderly citizens.

First, upon reaching retirement age, older Americans rely increasingly upon federal programs. Seventy percent of individuals over 65 depend on social security for a majority of their income. Some 212 million older Americans depend on supplemental security income.

So these legal service programs are important because the relationship between our elderly people, after retirement, and governmental agencies, whether it is at the national level, the State or local level, increases dramatically, and the elderly people are more likely to suffer untoward effects from unsatisfactory dealing with other private individuals.

Finally, the elderly have been given new rights in recent years which may take court action to enforce, from protection against age discrimination in employment to especially equipped transportation. I hope we can get some reaction to this proposal.

The second question is who is being served? About a third of those over 60 are now getting some service through the Older Americans Act.

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