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OLDER AMERICANS ACT OF 1978
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1977
U. S. SENATE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AGING
New Orleans, La. The subcommittee, met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., at 139 South Lopez Street, New Orleans, La. Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senator Eagleton, Senator Johnston, and Representative Lindy Boggs. Senator EAGLETON. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
The Senate Subcommittee on Aging of the Senate Human Resources Committee, of which I am chairman, is now in session to take testimony with respect to the extension of the Older Americans Act.
I am delighted to have with us here today Senator Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, although not a member of the Human Resources Committee, nevertheless an individual keenly and deeply interested in legislation and matters pertaining to America's senior citizens.
If I may, I will have a brief opening statement and then I will yield to Senator Johnston.
We will have witnesses both this morning and this afternoon. A witness list is available at the table to my left.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR EAGLETON On behalf of all of the members of the Senate Subcommittee on Aging, I welcome the opportunity to receive testimony today on the programs conducted under authority of the Older Americans Act.
At the beginning of this decade, the Older Americans Act consisted largely of a program of grants to the States, under which about $15 million was distributed among the States, four territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Needless to say, divided among all of these entities, $15 million was hardly adequate.
Since that time, that is, within a period of 10 years, tremendous changes have taken place. Total funding for the program for the Older Americans Act now totals something in the neighborhood close to $700 million. That is quite an increment from $15 million a decade ago to $700 million today.
While I would like to attribute this startling growth to iny leadership as chairman of the subcommittee, the increased Federal effort in this area is largely due to the increase in the population aged 65 and over. In 1950, 8.2 percent of our population was 65 or older. By 1975, this percentage had risen to 10.6, or approximately 11 million additional elderly citizens.
The Older Americans Act Amendments of 1973 embodied substantial revision and enlargement of the activities and programs authorized by the act. Most significantly, these amendments provided for the establishment of area agencies on aging to provide a comprehensive network of services for older persons at the local level. In addition, they authorized a number of new and revised programs, including some of the following:
Expanded research, training, and demonstration programs on matters relating to transportation services for the aging.
A new program of support for the establishment and operation of senior centers at which older persons may enjoy social activities and obtain information and referral services.
A greatly revised program of volunteer activities as part of the foster grandparents and RSVP programs.
Inclusion of the nutrition program for the elderly under the umbrella of the Older Americans Act.
A new program of community service employment for older Americans administered by the Department of Labor.
I might add at this time, although it is not in this prepared statement, we do have a breakdown of the funding for these key elderly programs. I might just read these figures into the record. Under title 3 of the act, and that is the part that deals with State and area agencies on aging, the appropriations for the fiscal 1978, the year that we are now in, the fiscal year 1978, the appropriation for that category was $187 million.
Title 4, that is the research title, or research section, $29.3 million.
Title 5, and that deals with multipurpose senior centers, $40 million.
Title 7, and that is the basic nutrition title, $250 million.
Title 9, that is the older workers employment, I just mentioned that one a moment ago, that's $190.4 million, and those figures total $699.2 million.
Now, the 1975 amendments embodied some new initiatives; specific earmarking of four priority services for transportation, legal counseling, residential repair, and inhome services. Those were specifically set forth as objectives or goals, but the act, the 1975 act primarily continued the programs as they had been existing heretofore.
I have spent considerable time discussing the evaluation of the Older Americans Act programs to demonstrate the tremendous progress that has taken place in this decade. The existing authority for the Older Americans Act expires September 30, 1978. The subcommittee is now reviewing all programs under the act as the initial step in extending and revising the law. We are here today to elicit your testimony on problems that you perceive with current programs and areas of need to which no support or inadequate support is provided.
It may be that existing programs are too rigid; it may be that greater flexibility is needed at the State and local level; perhaps that limited resources are spread too thinly to have maximum impact in any area; perhaps that specific direction from Washington is necessary to assure delivery of important services. It may be that everything is working well and that no major revisions should be undertaken at this time.
That is the reason for these hearings. This is the first set of field hearings we will hold on this act. Another set will be held perhaps sometime in the spring in the Midwest, maybe Chicago, and in addition, we will have the hearings in Washington, D.C., for the various governmental types of witnesses and citizens of that greater metropolitan area.
I might say as a footnote before yielding to my distinguished colleague that the reason we picked Louisiana, and more specifically New Orleans, La., was the fact that the State and especially the Greater New Orleans area, has been very forward-looking, very outgoing, as it were, with respect to these senior citizens programs; excellent nutrition centers, one of which we are obviously using today and we will stay for lunch and so forth. So we wanted to pick a city in the South where we thought the programs had been well received and were being well implemented and that is why we picked New Orleans and we are delighted to be here.
I yield at this time to my colleague, Senator Bennett Johnston.
STATEMENT OF HON. BENNETT J. JOHNSTON, A. U.S. SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA
Senator JOHNSTON. Thank you very much, Senator Eagleton.
The success of this program is very much attributable to Tom Eagleton who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Aging of the full Human Resources Committee.
Many of you may know, we have in Congress a division of responsibilities, and a division of labors where each of us serves on a separate committee. Some are subcommittee chairmen. Those who have subcommittees, chairmanship of a subcommittee have a special duty, responsibility, and power to shape the legislation that comes before that subcommittee.
I might say that Senator Eagleton as chairman of the Subcommittee on Aging has been the guiding hand in this field of legislation. The success of the program, several hundred percent in just recent years of increase and funding for this program is a measure of his success. I say that not just to please my colleague of whom I am very fond and with whom I am very good friends, but also to impress upon you that what you say today, the recommendations that you make, can be directly translated through Senator Eagletonand I will support him and help him in that regard—through Senator Eagleton can be translated directly in the law because we are here at one of the more progressive, successful programs and you as representatives of that program can help us a great deal.
You know, one of the measures of the success of a society is the longevity of its people. Think of it—when you determine the state of civilization in various countries around the world, well, you look at per capita income, you look at infant mortality, and you look at longevity. How long does the average person live?
In the United States, we have been very successful at extending the lifespan of people. So when we look at the increasing figures of the number and the percentage of older Americans in our society, I prefer not to think of the problems of older Americans, I prefer to think of the challenge of older Americans because it is the state that we all want to get in.
I hope to be an older American. In fact, I hope to be an older American for a long time, as I am sure you all do. Now what we have got to do, it seems to me, in this nation and in this Congress is to anticipate that challenge because it is going to be an everincreasing challenge.
I won't go into a lot of figures here, but let me give you some that are rather startling to me. Between 1960 and 1970, the population of persons aged 65 and over increased by over 6,000,000 from 16,600,000 to 22,900,000.
In 1960, persons 65 and older represented 9.2 percent of the population. By 1965, that had gone up to 9.5 percent; in 1970, it was 9.8 percent; by 1970, 10.5 percent. In other words, it grew in this period of 15 years from 9.2 percent to 10.5 percent. That is in a proportionate or percentage way.
In Louisiana the percentage of older Americans has greatly increased. Listen to this and just in this State in 1950, we had 177,000 older Americans aged 65 and older; by 1975, that had grown to 346,000, about twice as much. Now, some may refer to that as a problem and I think that is a measure of success. The success of medical care, nutrition programs, and all of the other things that go into extending the life and the golden years of citizens, but with that extension of life, which we all so devoutly desire, comes problems, challenges, nutrition, health, transportation, recreation, legal problems that we are now addressing in this new act, housing, all of the whole range of economic problems and others that relate to what you might call the quality of life.
So what we want to do today is get from you and from these other witnesses suggestions about how through legislation in Congress, we can improve the quality, not just the length of life, but the quality of life for older Americans. You can be very helpful to us in helping us fashion laws that will achieve a better quality of life.
I thank my colleague for coming down to New Orleans and for conducting these hearings.
Senator EAGLETON. Thank you, Senator Johnston. [Text of S. 2850, S. 2609, and S. 2969 follows:]
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
APRIL 6 (legislative day, FEBRUARY 6), 1978 Mr. EAGLETON introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred
to the Committee on Human Resources
To amend the Older Americans Act to provide for improved
programs for the elderly, and for other purposes. 1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 3 That (a) this Act may be cited as the “Older Americans
4 Act of 1978".
5 (b) Except as otherwise specifically provided, whenever 6 in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of 7 an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, 8 the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or
9 other provision of the Older Americans Act of 1965.