As some PA Area Agencies on Aging struggle, lawmakers eye plans to bring them back in line

23 May 2024- With six local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in Pennsylvania not meeting state requirements, Rep. Lou Schmitt (R-Altoona) introduced legislation today to require the state Department of Aging to make public all non-compliant AAAs and action plans to correct issues.

“Tens of thousands of older Pennsylvanians rely on their local AAAs that are the boots on the ground when it comes to providing services to residents, including investigating allegations of elder abuse. Unfortunately, some are out of compliance with state regulations,” Schmitt said. “What’s equally frightening is information about which of the AAAs are not compliant and why they are not meeting regulations is hidden from the public eye.”

That is why Schmitt introduced House Bill 2319 to mandate the Department of Aging to display a non-compliant AAA list and corrective action plans on its website. Currently, the information is released once a year by the department in a report that is rarely, if ever, seen by the public.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Schmitt shed light on the issue during a budget hearing in February, during which he quizzed the Department of Aging secretary about the non-public information.

“The fact that this information is essentially hidden from the public is unacceptable, especially when these entities continue to receive state taxpayer dollars,” Schmitt said. “The people deserve to know if the AAA in their area is protecting senior citizens.”

Schmitt’s House Bill 2319 will likely be referred to the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee for initial consideration. The legislation is part of the “Back to Basics” government reform package of bills, which is based on observations and feedback from state agencies during the 2024 budget hearings.