Gov. Lee signs Tennessee Disability and Aging Act into law

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee today signed the Tennessee Disability and Aging Act into law, marking a significant step in the state’s commitment to serving its aging population and individuals with disabilities. The legislation merges Tennessee’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) to establish the new Department of Disability and Aging (DDA). This move received unanimous, bipartisan legislative support and garnered backing from numerous stakeholders.

“When I became governor, I made a commitment to shrink the size of government, ensuring we efficiently and effectively serve all Tennesseans,” said Gov. Lee. “Creating a new Department of Disability and Aging is one example of our work to deliver on that promise, enabling better coordination and stronger advocacy.”

Adults aged 65 and older represent the fastest-growing demographic in Tennessee. With this demographic surge, the state recognizes the importance of having robust infrastructure in place to meet the needs of older adults.

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TCAD serves as Tennessee’s federally designated “state unit on aging,” overseeing Older Americans Act programs and providing leadership on aging issues throughout state government. Tennessee is one of two states that did not previously house its “state unit on aging” within a cabinet-level agency.

Moreover, DIDD and TCAD offer similar supports and services aimed at enhancing the quality of life and independence of their respective populations. By consolidating these agencies, the state aims to achieve better coordination on areas of shared priorities.

“The consolidation of these government agencies will enhance coordination and advocacy for all Tennesseans to live and age with as much independence and dignity as possible,” remarked Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin.

“Tennessee is a model for the nation when it comes to making government work more cooperatively and efficiently for our citizens,” added House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland.

Senator Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, who sponsored the legislation, emphasized the importance of ensuring representation for individuals with disabilities and seniors. She expressed confidence that the newly formed Department of Disability and Aging would provide exceptional service and a voice for these valued citizens.

Commissioner Brad Turner of the Department of Disability and Aging expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with partners to support individuals in living the lives they envision for themselves.

Janice Wade-Whitehead, President & CEO of Alzheimer’s Tennessee and representative of community advocates, hailed the creation of the new department as a significant milestone for the aging community, emphasizing its importance for current and future generations.