Get to know Aging Texas Well Advisory Committee

Sandra Reed
Sandra Reed

The Aging Texas Well Advisory Committee and Plan for 2018-2019 states that those 60 and over make up 18% of Texas’ population. The study further reports that between 2000 and 2014, the number of persons in Texas over 65 grew by 49.5 percent and that population is expected to rise over the next ten years. 

The Aging Texas Well Advisory Committee and Plan was first mandated by an Executive Order RP-42, signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2005. The committee is charged with creating a biennial plan that addresses issues regarding the aging population. The ATW has identified 16 issue areas critical to aging well in Texas: (1) physical; (2) mental; (3) social; (4) spiritual; (5) financial; (6) legal; (7) employment; (8) education; (9) volunteerism; (10) recreation; (11) housing; (12) community supports; (13) transportation; (14) long-term care; (15) caregiving and (16) protection.

The Executive Order RP-42 issues six mandates. Under Mandate 1, the committee is to advise the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and make recommendations regarding the issue of aging.

Mandate 2 requires HHSC to “create and disseminate a comprehensive and effective working plan to identify and discuss aging policy issues, guide state government readiness, and promote increased community preparedness for an aging Texas.”

Mandate 3 instructs HHSC to review and/or comment on state policies that affect the aging population.

Mandate 4 states that HHSC “shall lead a planning effort to ensure the readiness of all Texas state agencies to serve an aging population.”

Mandate 5 states agencies are to continue to promote and expand the fitness program “Texercise.”

Mandate 6 requires HHSC to work with governmental and private partners to build the capacity to serve the aging population.      

Texas HHSC utilizes the plan to review and/or comment on state policies including: improving services for informal caregivers; promoting ways to increase evidence-based disability and disease prevention activities; increasing the recruitment and retention of health care providers trained in geriatrics; improving the provision of services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are aging; reviewing options to expand the mobility of older adults through affordable, accessible, and integrated transportation services; improving the provision of behavioral health services and support to older persons; and reviewing federal changes in health care policy.

Seniors should review the key actions required by RP-42 and follow up with their Texas legislative representatives regarding any concerns they may have by accessing the full report through this link: https://hhs.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/laws-regulations/reports-presentations/2017/aging-tx-well-plan2018-19-sept-2017.pdf.

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.