Feb. 22, 2024

Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich, along with Deputy Secretary of Aging Steven Horner, and Director of Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Program (PACE) Tom Snedden, testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on how the Department of Aging is meeting the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing elderly population. Additionally, Republicans asked why the department’s budget material provided no details on the $11.7 million request for the “Aging Our Way, PA” plan, and how this investment will reduce the need for more costly levels of care for the growing senior population. Republicans also asked pointed questions on the Department’s handling of reports of elder abuse and neglect, leading to frustrating replies from Sec. Kavulich.

Key Takeaways

· Governor Shapiro has touted the 10-year Master Plan on Aging called “Aging Our Way, PA” and requested $11.7 million from the State Lottery Fund to support the plan in fiscal year 2024-25, with continued investments in subsequent years. Presented with promises of collaboration, Sec. Kavulich could not answer whether this plan requires legislation or if the plan can be achieved through current laws and regulations.

· House Republicans have serious concerns with the Department not collecting adequate data or appropriately addressing investigations of suspicious deaths of seniors who may have been victims of elder abuse or neglect.

· House Republicans pressed Sec. Kavulich for details on how the Department is addressing the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) report regarding the disparity in the percentage of substantiated claims of elder abuse and neglect between the county Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).

Notable Q&A

Rep. Ann Flood asked what changes are being made to address substantiated reports of need to Area Agencies on Aging. The disparity of substantiated reports varies from 8% in Luzerne/Wyoming, to 61% in Lancaster. 

Rep. Lou Schmitt asks Sec. Kavulich to describe what Area Agencies on Aging do on a daily basis and which AAA’s are in noncompliance with state guidelines. 

Rep. John Lawrence questions Sec. Kavulich on why the Department of Aging does not track the cause of death for individuals who were reported to Area Agencies on Aging for potential elder abuse. 

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives