Gov. Lee Signs Tennessee Disability and Aging Act Into Law

Thursday, April 11, 2024 | 03:05pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the Tennessee Disability and Aging Act, legislation that merges Tennessee’s Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) and Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), effectively creating a new Department of Disability and Aging (DDA). The bill received unanimous, bipartisan legislative support and was backed by 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. “This is one example of our work to deliver on that promise, enabling better coordination and stronger advocacy.”

Adults 65 years and older are the fastest-growing demographic in Tennessee. With a rapidly increasing aging population, the state must ensure it has the infrastructure in place to serve the needs of older adults.

TCAD is Tennessee’s federally designated “state unit on aging,” currently overseeing Older Americans Act programs and providing leadership relative to 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. Elevating TCAD to a department will enhance its ability to lead strategic planning and coordination across state government relative to aging issues.

Additionally, there are many similarities in the supports and services TCAD and DIDD provide to enhance the quality of life and independence of the populations they serve. Unifying these two agencies will provide for 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. I appreciate Governor Lee for his commitment to ensuring our government operates efficiently while also providing better services to our citizens.” -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. Unifying these agencies will enable better coordination and stronger advocacy helping all Tennesseans live and age with as much independence as possible.” -House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland

“The merging of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability is an advantageous step in ensuring all Tennesseans can live and age with independence.  I was pleased to sponsor this legislation so both individuals with disabilities and our seniors can be represented by a Commissioner and Department that totally focuses on issues and services important to them. I am confident the newly formed Department of Disability and Aging will offer exceptional service and provide a voice for these valued citizens.” -Senator Becky Massey, R-Knoxville

“I have always been a big supporter of TCAD and DIDD, and merging both agencies will allow for stronger advocacy for older adults and people with disabilities. I look forward to the excellent service the new Department of Disability and Aging will provide to Tennesseans across our state.” -Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville

“People with disabilities and older adults should have the opportunity to age in place while having independence, health, and a high quality of life. I’m excited to work with our partners in both communities to ensure the Department of Disability and Aging is doing all it can to support people to live the lives they envision for themselves.” Commissioner Brad Turner, Department of Disability and Aging

“We are witnessing a significant milestone with the creation of a new cabinet level department merging the state department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Commission on Aging and Disabilities. This is an important step forward for the aging community for today, tomorrow and generations to come. Community advocates representing the 129,000 Tennesseans living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in addition to the over 360,000 family caregivers celebrate the actions taken here today. -Janice Wade-Whitehead, Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability, President & CEO of Alzheimer’s Tennessee