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Public Papers - 1992 - September

Statement on Signing the Older Americans Act Amendments of 1992

1992-09-30

Today I am signing into law H.R. 2967, the ``Older Americans Act Amendments of 1992.'' The bill extends and amends important programs under the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA) and the Native American Programs Act of 1974 (NAPA), including provisions for a White House Conference on Aging.

H.R. 2967 strengthens provisions of the OAA and supports expanded opportunities and services for our Nation's 42 million older Americans.

The OAA has enabled millions of older Americans to live with independence and dignity in their own homes and communities. Programs sponsored under the OAA have had many positive results. They have provided older persons with a range of supportive in-home and community services; led to the development of gerontological curricula at our Nation's universities and colleges; and tested innovative ways of better meeting the needs of older persons. The OAA also provides opportunities for part-time employment for low-income persons aged 55 or older.

H.R. 2967 promises to further these goals. It provides for the increased participation of minority elders in OAA programs and sets up intergenerational services at meal sites in public schools that will benefit both older Americans and at-risk children. It also offers supportive services to the thousands of family caregivers who make it possible for the frail elderly to remain in their own homes and communities.

This bill supports the goal of the OAA to end the tragedy of elder abuse. It establishes a new Elder Rights Title of the OAA to consolidate long-term care ombudsman services, legal assistance, and outreach and counseling for elderly who are institutionalized or at risk of losing their independence.

H.R. 2967 also extends the programs under NAPA. These programs have had an important role for nearly two decades in promoting the social and economic self-sufficiency of Native Americans through grants to the governing bodies of Indian tribes and other Native American groups.

The bill, however, does contain provisions that raise constitutional concerns regarding the separation of powers. One provision would establish a policy committee for the White House Conference on Aging that is not clearly legislative or executive. I must therefore interpret the policy committee's role as entirely advisory. H.R. 2967 also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit recommendations and final guidelines to improve nutrition services to the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate. As the head of the executive branch, I will interpret this provision so as to maintain my constitutional authority to supervise my subordinates as I deem appropriate.

H.R. 2967 expands legislation to aid older Americans and their families. It is one way of demonstrating our commitment and thanks to those older people who have done so much to make America the great Nation that it is today.

George Bush

The White House,

September 30, 1992.

Note: H.R. 2967, approved September 30, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 375. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 1.

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