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 New Federal Agency Promotes Community Living

 

 

A newly created agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been established to promote community living among seniors and people with disabilities.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) will bring existing federal agencies related to aging and disabilities under its umbrella and “seek to enhance and improve the broad range of supports that individuals may need to live with respect and dignity as full members of their communities,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a statement announcing ACL. “These support needs go well beyond health care and include the availability of appropriate housing, employment, education, meaningful relationships, and social participation.”

ACL is a product of the Obama administration’s commitment to helping people remain in their homes, “rather than in nursing homes or other institutions,” Sebelius said.

The Administration on Aging (AOA), the Office on Disability, and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) will be moved within ACL, creating a “single agency that supports both cross-cutting initiatives and efforts focused on the unique needs of individual groups, such as children with developmental disabilities or seniors with dementia,” Sebelius said.

The reorganization will “establish a formal infrastructure to ensure consistency and coordination in community living policy across the federal government,” said a description of ACL on its website. The new agency will also work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to “develop, refine, and strengthen policies that promote independent living among all populations, especially those served by Medicaid.”

No legislation is needed to establish ACL, as the HHS secretary has the authority to organize the department and its functions, according to the agency’s website. Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging, will serve as ACL administrator without relinquishing her current position.

While staff, resources, and management of the AoA and ADD will remain “relatively unchanged,” the reorganization will “reduce the fragmentation” among federal programs that address community service and support needs for seniors and people with disabilities, the ACL description said.
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