Plans to address the projected growth in the state’s senior citizen population were part of a joint public hearing of the Senate Aging & Youth and House Aging & Older Adult Services Committees at the University of Pittsburgh, according to Senator Randy Vulakovich, Chairman of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee.
Of the 50 states, Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest percentage of residents age 60 years or older. Over the next decade, the Commonwealth’s population of residents age 85 years or older is expected to grow by 42 percent while the state’s total population is expected to grow by only 2 percent.
The groundwork for the hearing was the comprehensive testimony by Deputy Secretary David Gingerich of the Department of Aging, who discussed Pennsylvania’s 2012-16 State Plan on Aging, health care efforts such as PACE, APPRISE and the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, and a report by the AARP comparing Pennsylvania’s senior programs with those of other states.
Bonnie Rose, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Long Term Living with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, followed up with testimony on Medical Assistance (MA) programs that provide long-term care services to older Pennsylvanians and to adults with physical disabilities. She also discussed the Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) program, which enables older Pennsylvanians to live independently while receiving services and supports to meet their needs.
Following the presentations by the representatives from the state agencies, the Committees heard from testifiers who discussed other specific aging-related issues. These testifiers included representatives from AARP, Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Leading Age PA, Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging, United Way of Allegheny County, Westmoreland County United Way, Gateway Health and the Pennsylvania Health Underwriters Association.
Complete video coverage of the hearing as well as written testimony from the various participants is available by clicking here.
House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee Chairman Tim Hennessey stated that it was a great opportunity for both Committees to learn about services that are provided in western Pennsylvania. “These issues – which benefit older Pennsylvanians – are so very important for us to continue to address.”
Nathan Silcox, Executive Director
Senate Aging & Youth Committee
Sharon Schwartz, Executive Director
House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee