Hearing of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Roundtable on the Older Americans Act
OPENING STATEMENT: ROUNDTABLE ON THE OLDER AMERICANS ACT
Good afternoon and welcome to the Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging's first roundtable on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. I thank Chairman Enzi and Senator Kennedy for being here today. I also thank Senator Mikulski, the Subcommittee's Ranking Member, for her interest in these issues and for being here today. As many of you remember, during the reauthorization process in 2000, we were the Chair and Ranking Member, as well, and I look forward to working with her on the Older Americans Act once again. The last time this Subcommittee convened to discuss the Older Americans Act was in May last year. At that time, we heard from Assistant Secretary Emily DeRocco of the Department of Labor and Assistant Secretary Josefina Carbonell from the Department of Health and Human Services. They promised me then that they would provide the Administration's recommendations for the reauthorization of this Act. While I have yet to receive those recommendations, I do intend to move forward in the process of reauthorization. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and receiving your recommendations for this reauthorization.
Since the last time this Subcommittee met to discuss the Older Americans Act, most, if not all of you, participated in the White House Conference on Aging. At the Conference, you voted on the issues affecting older Americans that are most important to you. I am happy to see that you listed the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act as your top priority. I look forward to working with all of you to make that reauthorization happen this year.
As you know, older Americans are a vital and rapidly growing segment of our population. As we discussed in our May hearing, over 36 million people living in the United States are over the age of 65, accounting for about 12 percent of the population. The Census Bureau projects that 45 years from now, people 65 and older will number nearly 90 million in the United States and comprise 21 percent of the population. Further, we know that 4.6 million people aged 65 and older are still employed.
The Older Americans Act is an important service provider for these Americans. Through this important Act, our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are able to access services, including congregate and home-delivered meals, community service employment, and services to prevent the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older persons.
Reauthorizing the Act is a primary goal of this Subcommittee, and I look forward to our work together. Thank you to our panel participants here today. I will introduce everyone by name and affiliation. After which, we will proceed to your three minute, prepared remarks. After the first three-minute round, we will proceed to a second round where you will be given the opportunity to respond to remarks made by your colleagues and me. To be recognized to make a remark during the second round, I will ask that you place your name plaquard on its end, and I will recognize you.