Majority Press

Casey Holds Aging Committee Hearing on Disaster Management for Seniors, People with Disabilities

Eighty percent of adults ages 65 and older have at least one chronic condition that may impair their ability to prepare for or recover from the effects of disasters

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing entitled “ Inclusive Disaster Management: Improving Preparedness, Response and Recovery.” The hearing examined the Nation’s ability to counteract future weather disasters and public health emergencies for seniors and Americans with disabilities. Chairman Casey discussed his legislation to support disability and aging communities before, during and after disasters and emergencies: the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (DRMA) and the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act. Chairman Casey also highlighted his Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, now law, which expanded funding for emergency preparedness and established a National Advisory Committee on Seniors and Disasters and the National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities and Disasters.

“As we face more frequent climate disasters, we must be prepared to ensure the safety of people with disabilities and older adults, who are often the ones hit hardest by disasters, but are not given a voice in the management process,” said Chairman Casey. “The Build Back Better Act and the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill will also make historic investments in reducing the speed and effects of climate change. Whether it is hurricanes, wildfires or the next pandemic, people with disabilities and older adults must have a seat at the planning table.”

The Build Back Better Act would include a once-in-a-generation expansion of home and community-based services based on Chairman Casey’s Better Care Better Jobs Act. This legislation would expand services for seniors and people with disabilities and invest in the caregiving workforce. These investments will mean better preparation for disasters and emergencies.

At the hearing, Danielle Koerner, Volunteer Management Coordinator at the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services, and caregiver to family members with disabilities, spoke about the need for better home and community-based services protecting older adults and people with disabilities: “The frequency and intensity of natural disasters are increasing, and the emergency response workforce is decreasing. Paid and volunteer workers are harder than ever to find in my field of work. If we can improve the lives of individuals with disabilities, seniors with access needs, and unpaid caregivers before the emergency happens, we will exponentially increase their resiliency when it does.”

Read more about REAADI and DRMA.

Read more about the Better Care Better Jobs Act here.