Friday, December 16, 2011

A Look Back at 50 Years of the Special Committee on Aging

On Wednesday, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging held a forum entitled "Aging in America: Future Challenges, Promise and Potential.” The event featured many speakers, including aging experts and key Special Committee staff, and commemorated the Committee's 50th anniversary.

The Special Committee is responsible for bringing attention to key issues relating to older adults. Although it has no legislative authority, the Special Committee on Aging studies issues, conducts oversight and investigates fraud and waste.

Kathy Greenlee, the Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging, spoke about the milestone legislation and judicial action that affects the aging community since the inception of the Special Committee in 1961, including:
  • Creation of Medicare and Medicaid (1965)
  • Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (1987)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
  • The Olmstead Decision (1999)
  • Affordable Care Act (2010)
Assistant Secretary Greenlee also emphasized the importance of preventative care across the lifespan, and that it is possible to deliver better care for those who need it at lower costs by using a home and community-based approach.

There has been a significant difference in the lives of older adults over the last half century, and the next 50 years is sure to be transformative as well.

Kelly Stellrecht
Outreach and Field Coordinator
Elder Economic Security Initiative