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Comprehensive Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978 Statement on Signing H.R. 12255 Into Law.

October 18, 1978

With great pleasure, I am signing into law H.R. 12255, the Comprehensive Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978. These amendments to the Older Americans Act of 1965 are an important step toward more effectively meeting the special needs of our elderly citizens.

In a relatively short time, the Nation has greatly expanded programs for older Americans. We have dramatically reduced poverty among the elderly. We have established a wide array of Federal, State, local, and private services to help maintain our older citizens in their own homes, rather than institutions, and to maximize their independence and dignity. Now we are improving these services by strengthening their coordination and planning at all levels of government.

These amendments consolidate several separate, overlapping titles of the Older Americans Act into a single title covering all services. They also improve planning for these services to add efficiency at all levels of government and eliminate countless hours of paperwork and administrative burdens.

Moreover, they require better targeting of these resources on low-income and minority elderly.

The amendments continue the Older American Community Service Employment program for low-income older persons. Congress expanded .eligibility under the program to individuals with somewhat higher incomes than poverty level. But I hope that the program administrators will ensure that those in greatest need can have the first opportunity to participate.

The amendments also extend for 3 years ACTION's three Older American Volunteer programs: Retired Senior Volunteers, Foster Grandparents, and Senior Companions. These programs provide volunteer opportunities for persons age 60 and over to serve meaningfully the infirm, the mentally retarded, and other individuals in their communities.

The amendments will help expand the ability of the elderly to protect their rights in two ways: by authorizing a private right of action for judicial redress of age discrimination, and by requiring the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to study racial and ethnics discrimination in programs for the elderly.

Further, the amendments strengthen the role of the Federal Council on Aging, which I rely on for advice, and provide for a White House Conference on Aging in 1981. This Conference will provide a national forum to reassess the progress we have made and to prepare for challenges that will confront the Nation's elderly citizens over the next generation or two.

In summary, I particularly want to recognize the work of Congressman John Brademas and Senator Thomas Eagleton, who helped shape these important amendments which represent the continuation of the Nation's commitment to find effective ways to assist our older citizens. I am proud to sign them and reaffirm that commitment.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 12255 is Public Law 95-478, approved October 18.

Jimmy Carter, Comprehensive Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978 Statement on Signing H.R. 12255 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244134

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