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Last updated: February 19. 2013 9:32PM - 351 Views

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Today in Pennsylvania there are nearly 2.7 million individuals age 60 and older and more than 300,000 persons 85 years of age and older living in the commonwealth. By 2030, it is estimated that 3.6 million Pennsylvanians will be 60 and older. We have the fourth largest population of older adults in the country, and with that comes significant and costly obligations.


The Department of Aging's mission is enhancing the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians by empowering diverse communities, the family and the individual. The two main goals of the department are to prevent older adults from instability in health and well-being that may result in institutional care and dependence on government assistance; and protect them from abuse, neglect, abandonment and exploitation. They have earned this right and it is our obligation to meet their needs with the resources available to us.


Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation to use Lottery funding solely for services that support its older residents. Because of this unique source of dedicated funding, the Department of Aging does not receive any monies from the state's General Fund.


Last year, the Lottery provided more than $1 billion to fund critical programs in the Department of Aging and other departments. Lottery revenue provides for property tax and rent rebates, senior centers services, in-home personal care services, home delivered meals, free and reduced fare transportation, long-term living services and low-cost prescription drugs for older Pennsylvanians.


As our older population increases, so will the need for aging services. The Lottery funds services that directly support nearly one million older Pennsylvanians and provides necessary respite and support to their families and caregivers.


As a commonwealth, we must examine all opportunities to make certain these vital services remain available for our most vulnerable population. While the Lottery recently achieved better-than-expected profit, it experienced negative growth in eight of the last 20 years. The Department of Aging commends Governor Corbett for his foresight in exploring non-traditional options for ensuring a stable future for the Lottery and the programs it funds.


As we move through the process of analyzing a private management agreement for the Lottery, the best interest of older Pennsylvanians who rely on critical services supported by the Lottery will remain the sole, paramount priority.


The Department of Aging supports efforts such as the exploration of a private management agreement. This has the potential to increase revenues for programs and services supporting older Pennsylvanians.


It is the commonwealth's obligation to consider all options to ensure these services continue to be available to our most vulnerable residents.


Brian M. Duke is Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging.


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