SCRANTON, April 11, 2013 – State Sen. John Blake today said it is important that the Corbett administration and members of the General Assembly adopt the mission of an annual conference on aging and provide more – and better – services for Pennsylvania’s senior citizen population.

The 2013 Northeastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference on Aging is a daylong event at the Patrick & Margaret DeNaples Center at the University of Scranton. This is the conference’s third consecutive year and it is co-hosted by The Commonwealth Medical College.

“It is my hope that as we continue to move forward out of these challenging economic times, Pennsylvania will be able to provide the essential services and care not only to our seniors but to the members of their families who are often the key providers of that care,” Blake told conferees during the lunchtime session.

“These are supposed to be the golden years for our senior citizens and we can only hope that the many policy decisions taken by our state and federal lawmakers afford our senior citizens an opportunity to enjoy these years,” he said.

The University of Scranton and The Commonwealth Medical College say the conference “promotes the view that healthy aging results from an integrated approach to caring for the elderly.”

“The four guiding principles of education, integration, collaboration, and dissemination personify our core purpose to direct the necessary resources to enable elders and their families to live fulfilling lives with dignity and secure in the knowledge that our academic and professional institutions are committed to innovation and service to promote healthy aging,” the conference’s mission statement says.

As Pennsylvania moves into the federal Affordable Care Act and considers Medicaid expansion, Blake said it’s extremely important for lawmakers to pay attention to detail when it comes to adopting regulations and laws that affect senior citizens.

Nearly 2 million people 65 years old and older live in Pennsylvania and the commonwealth is fourth in the United States for residents who are 85 years old or older (300,000 people). Seventeen percent of the residents living in Blake’s 22nd Senatorial District are at least 65 years old.

By 2030, Blake said it is estimated that the number of Pennsylvanians older than 60 will increase to 3.6 million.

Pennsylvania’s growing elderly population, coupled with dramatically increasing health care costs, make it more important for lawmakers to get it right.

“In Pennsylvania, a senior or their family can expect to pay $99,280 per year for a private room in a nursing home. The national average for a private room is only $81,031 per year,” Blake said. “That is an unbearable cost for most families but most of the time there is simply no choice.

Blake reiterated the need for Gov. Corbett to approve Medicaid expansion. Citing statistics from a recent RAND study, the senator said Pennsylvania’s participation in the federal program would add as much as $2.5 billion in annual payments to the state. It would also spark up to $3.6 billion in economic activity.


# # #