Blake Talks about Aging Population, Legislative Issues at Conference on Aging

February 17, 2012: Senator Blake Hosts Legislative Breakfast

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SCRANTON, April 12, 2012 – – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today spoke about Pennsylvania’s rapidly aging population and current legislative, policy and state budget issues affecting senior citizens at the 2nd Annual Conference on Aging.

The conference was presented as a joint effort between the University of Scranton and The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC).

“This annual conference is a wonderful forum for all of us to share and exchange ideas on how best to serve Pennsylvania’s senior citizens who are facing ever more difficult challenges,” Blake said. “It is my sincere hope that, as we continue to see improvement in our state’s economy, Pennsylvania will be better positioned to provide essential, quality services and care not only to our seniors but to the members of their families who are often the key providers of that care.”

“It is worth adding that data from good research, such as that conducted at the University of Scranton and TCMC, is key to informing good public policy decisions and the proper allocation of state resources to strengthen and sustain an integrated social and health care support network for our aging population.”

Senator Blake noted that important research findings presented at the conference and conducted by the renowned Dr. Bruce Ames and his colleagues revealed “the importance of a good diet and proper nutrition to the quality of life our seniors — and indeed, all of our citizens — can expect in advancing years.”

Blake also noted that Pennsylvania currently ranks 5th in the country in terms of residents over 65 years of age and in the 22nd Senate District alone there are 43,699 residents over 65 years old, which accounts for 17 percent of the entire population.

Blake also voiced concerns about several recent legislative and policy decisions of the Corbett Administration that will adversely affect our senior citizens in Pennsylvania including the new Voter ID law and reinstating an asset test for those individuals and families receiving aid through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“There are roughly 340,000 Pennsylvania senior citizens without proper photo identification as prescribed by this new law and they may be unable to exercise their fundamental right to vote without bearing additional personal expense and inconvenience. With the decision to reinstate an asset test to receive federal SNAP benefits, there will also be seniors who will be penalized for being responsible and saving for medical emergencies or other critical needs such as housing and transportation,” Blake added.

Senator Blake also thanked the Secretary of Aging Brian Duke for his visit to Northeast PA and for lending his professional experience to the important work being done at the University of Scranton. Duke, a graduate of the University of Scranton, also spoke at the conference and discussed the work of the PA Department of Aging and the collaborative effort with 52 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state to develop a comprehensive, four-year plan to improve services and care to Pennsylvania’s seniors.

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