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I was one of the incorporators of the Hunterdon Medical Center; then I decided to go into the field professionally.
I went to Columbia University for a master's degree in public health. I spent 5 years with the United Mine Workers hospital program in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, so I know that part of the world very well and their medical care problems. I came back to New Jersey because my youngsters are getting along where they needed better schools, better than we could get in that part of the world, so I started into the health department and rose to the position of assistant to the State commissioner of health. Because I had an opportunity to move into the division on aging and get a line position,
which I had been used to having my own staff and developing my own program, then I shifted from the health department over to the division on aging.
As far as the Federal program is concerned, my own feeling is that we have had—and I join Mr. Fogarty in his criticism of the people in Health, Education, and Welfare-I think that's how Sidney Spector and Wilbur Cohen got themselves taken care of, that they dropped the aging like a hot potato and for a year we have seen no action, and that is the criticism that was entirely justified.
It would appear to me that at least in the beginning an independent commission attached to the Office of the President of the United States that would give the prestige and power necessary to coordinate Federal programs, then later, once it is established, transfer to the Health, Education, and Welfare, might be a way out of this. I do not think that you are going to get the kind of coordination that we are talking about here today if you put it into Health, Education, and Welfare in the beginning.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. I appreciate your making those remarks. The problem is a very tough administrative one, as you know. All of the information that we get, let us say, from the grassroots level-the State, communities, individuals, the golden age clubs-indicate very strongly that there is a need and a desire and demand for an independent, or at least a forceful, agency for the aging to get something done.
As you indicated, it has been said, and I am not familiar enough with the facts to comment myself, but it has been said that the Health, Education, and Welfare Department has done nothing for the last
I am not familiar enough to comment on it, but one of the things that has been suggested—and I would like your evaluation of this—is a House and
Senate Joint Committee on Aging to have watchdog duties like the House and Senate Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and might create the force that would help do this no matter which type of approach is taken? If this joint committee were set up, it would force the hands over here in the administrative side.
Would you care to comment on this?
Mr. MONUTT. As far as the administrative setup is concerned, we join with you in saying that you have got to have the necessary prestige and the ability to cut across departmental lines in order to get this job done. It is very possible that a joint committee in the Senate and the House could strengthen the hand of a HEW agency to that extent so that they could get the information from Labor and the
year. As Í
other departments that they need to get it from and get it coordinated. But just to set up an Assistant Secretary in Health, Education, and Welfare, even with an advisory committee, is as broad as it might be. I don't think it is sufficient.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. You join with Mrs. Greer then in saying that we have had enough study and enough talk, now we need action?
Mr. McNUTT. We certainly do.
I am sorry, Dr. Fischer, that we have delayed you so long. As I said before, the reason I did this was that I wanted Mr. Bailey to hear
STATEMENT OF DR. HAYVIS WOOLF, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WEL
FARE, CRANSTON, R.I., CHAIRMAN OF THE NEW ENGLAND COUNCIL OF OPTOMETRISTS-VISION CARE OF THE AGING, AND DIRECTOR OF THE RHODE ISLAND OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION
Dr. FISCHER. This is actually a statement prepared by Dr. Hayvis Woolf, of Cranston, R.I., I am merely reading it for him.
My name is Hayvis Woolf. My residence is 575 Pontiac Avenue in Cranston, R.I. I am a practicing optometrist at my Cranston address and also the only elected director of public welfare in a city in the State of Rhode Island. I am a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Optometry in the class of June 1939. I have served with the Army and the Army Air Forces on active duty for 5 years during World War II, starting as a private and being separated as a first lieutenant.
I am a ready reservist at the present time, with the rank of major, as an optometrist in the Medical Service Corps of the Army assigned to the 1032 USAR Providence School. My statement here today is as the chairman of the Committee on Vision Care of the Aging of the New England Council of Optometrists; as chairman of the Committee on Housing for the Elderly, Rhode Island Division on Aging; as a director of the Rhode Island Optometric Association and as director of public welfare of the city of Cranston, R.I., a city of 67,000 population.
For the past 13 months since I assumed the office of director of public welfare, I have become intensely interested in the problems of the elderly, in my community, my State and in the Nation.
I first recalled the problems of elderly people from my own optometric practice who required special attention and special services for their particular type problems. Then came the problems of the elderly people who are now participating under welfare programs such as old-age assistance, which is a FederalState program. In the State of Rhode Island, welfare recipients are allowed in their budgets just $35 a month for rental of suitable or possibly unsuitable living quarters. Since, by the 1950 census, our average rental in my community was $50 a month, this presented an acute problem and made me realize that our elderly citizens were not receiving sufficient subsidies through the old-age program for suitable, comfortable living quarters.
Many of our aged citizens who are afflicted with heart trouble and arthritis are living in third-floor apartments and tenements, not being able to go out of doors because they cannot walk the stairs. Many were being housed with expenses exceeding their allotments for rent and fuel ; constantly juggling to pay all the bills. Then there is the percentage that can only afford dilapidated and substandard dwellings due to their low budgets.
At that time I traveled to HHFA and the regional office of the U.S. Public Housing Authority in New York to seek information relative to the building of low-rent public housing in my city. I was amazed to learn the considerable facts, figures, and statistics that had been compiled relative to the apparent need for this type of low-rent housing for the elderly in Cranston.
I realized also that if such a situation existed in my city it must also exist in cities and towns throughout my State and throughout the United States. Upon further investigation and attendance at various conferences and meetings in several parts of the United States, I have found that the problems of the elderly are common problems that could be resolved by the proper channeling and the full cooperation of all agencies that deal specifically with the problems of the elderly.
In June 1961, I attended the followup of the White House Conference on Aging in Washington and discussed there with some of the State delegates assembled, the need for a central agency that would develop programs that would be solely of benefit to the aging.
With full reality that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare does, at the present time, have a separate department to deal with the problems of the elderly, there seemed to be a little something lacking that could only be accomplished by a separate agency for the elderly. When I returned to Rhode Island I discussed this particular need with the administrator of our division on aging, Dr. Mary C. Mulvey, and we definitely concluded that more close cooperation was necessary between the Federal Government and State agencies dealing with the problems of the aged.
With the present agency, education for the elderly and old-age assistance must come through another agency. Federal grants for demonstration and research projects must come through still another agency.
In accordance with available statistics each State makes an annual appropriation to the agency caring for the aged program, only in the monetary amount that it feels it required for such a program. As can be seen from the facts assembled, other States feel that the program is more essential than others; thereby not allowing adequate funds to carry on the essentials of a well-rounded program.
In recent months I have turned my attention to my own profession and upon conferring with the chairman of the Vision Care of the Aging Committee of the American Optometric Association, Dr. Donald C. Exford, optometrist of Pittsfield, Mass., I found that my own conclusions and statistics were shared in great measure by other men in the profession.
It has been found that many people in the ill and the aged category have great difficulty in their latter years, to come to the office of the optometrist to have their eyes examined; some with arthritis, heart trouble, some with just failing sight that could be helped with optometric service.
And so I thought that if there were some way in which we could bring our service to these senior citizens in their homes, in their place of living, where they could have their vision cared for so that they could enjoy the declining years of their lives, to see a newspaper or read a book or a magazine, to watch television or just to look out upon the adjoining scenes from an upstairs window. And so it is, that after 6 years of a mental dream, this project of bringing vision care to the elderly and the chronically ill has finally been put down in outline form.
This plan will be presented to the U.S. Public Health Service for consideration for a grant as a demonstration project for our profession in the entire United States. Yes, a self-propelled mobile examination vehicle outfitted as an optometric office on wheels could be taken where necessary to care for the vision of our elderly.
Under a commission of the aging, this particular idea could have been carried out in conjunction with a dental study in the Kansas City area which resulted in a project movie film, “The Vigil of Jenny Fay.” The two studies could have paralleled each other with resultant statistics and data of benefit to both professions. However, the coordination was not available due to the lack of one organization to care for all phases and problems of the elderly and aging.
To go back once more to the welfare office where daily we come in contact with elderly people receiving social security benefits who are not able to be covered by present-day medical care programs, creating for them great mental anguish. Many of these aging citizens are faced with problems of rising costs of medical care, pharmaceuticals, and items of general everyday use.
As previously stated, the rents in this area of Rhode Island are higher than most people who are receiving social security benefits can afford. Then, too, these people in this category ofttimes have a great deal of leisure but cannot find spitable part-time or full-time employment. These citizens over 65 years of age are a marvelous pool of professionals and artisans whose experience could aid our great country in its forward progress to lead the world of nations.
The proposed U.S. Commission on Aging can coordinate with the States the various programs and could afford the elderly opportunities for gainful employment without any discrimination because of their age.
We must remember, however, that there are many opportunities for the senior citizens to gain employment, only to find that they are not suitably trained for that particular type of work. Through properly planned educational resources our senior citizens could be retrained to fill some of these job opportunities. As we all realize our efforts to coordinate under one Commission all the aspects of the aging, would offer to senior citizens the opportunity for better living, for more adequate and gainful employment, for suitable housing, for education, and for recreation.
All these things can be offered but all aged peoples will not take advantage of the various aspects that can be coordinated for their so-called good. Some senior citizens resent this invasion of their privacy and wish to be completely independent. However, if these programs are made available to them through a U.S. Commission on Aging, in cooperation with a State group, they will be organized when sought or needed by our Golden Agers.
Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, the 10 points in the bill H.R. 10014 outlining the functions of a U.S. Commission on Aging are well taken. In my opinion, the essentials of policy and legislative proposals, maintenance of a continuing review of programs of departments and agencies of the Federal Government with respect to problems of the aging, the assistance to States and local communities and other nonprofit organizations, are just part of the overall duties of a commission on aging.
They could sponsor and seek cooperation of all agencies for the conducting of conferences, seminars, and research programs for the collection, compilation, and dissemination to interested parties, information relative to the programs of the aged.
Also, to give continued assistance to the States and local communities to assess the needs of the aged as well as actively support the dissemination of information relative to Federal programs that already exist in the field of aging.
The fact that a commission on aging can serve as a central source of information for the recommendations emanating from the White House Conference on Aging and other conferences would greatly congeal a great many independent efforts. And finally, this Commission could, by H.R. 10014, administer the granting of programs for demonstration and research.
I have here tried to cover a brief outline of the events that I come in contact with almost daily in both the practice of optometric profession and the operation of the department of public welfare in my city. I strongly urge the consideration of this bill by the Congress assembled that this Commission may become a reality for present and future benefits of the aging population in the United States. Thank you.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Thank you, Dr. Fischer. We will put Dr. Woolf's statement in the record, and may I suggest that Mary Mulvey will be testifying before the committee also so that we will get that from her.
Dr. FISCHER. As a matter of fact, Dr. Woolf is in Washington and that is why he couldn't be here personally.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. We will be getting some more of this, and I appreciate your coming in. I am sorry I held you up. I thought Mr. Bailey would be interested in this one aspect and unfortunately he didn't get here. Thank you again. Did you want to make a statement for the record, Mr. Schade?
STATEMENT OF JOHN G. SCHADE, WESTFIELD, N.J., DIRECTOR OF
THE NEW JERSEY CITIZENS COUNCIL ON AGING, DELEGATE TO THE WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON AGING, CHAIRMAN OF THE PHOENIX LODGE, 315 IAM, MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE OF UNION COUNTY COUNCIL, AFL-CIO, AND REPRESENTATIVE OF THE NEW JERSEY STATE COUNCIL FOR AGING ON SENIOR CITIZENS, AFI-CIO Mr. SCHADE. Are there any others scheduled ? Mr. ELLSWORTH. Mr. Schade, we have no other people scheduled as witnesses.
Mr. SCHADE. Then along with the others, my name is John G. Schade, Westfield, N.J., and I am a member of ail of the groups that I mentioned.
I am of the firm belief, as well as countless members of my organization and many citizens that I have come in contact with, that the Federal Government should set up a special agency on senior citizens, instead of being divided up into several agencies as now. They should
do this to ascertain the problems of our senior citizens and to make remedial relief of those problems.
Also said agencies to supervise and direct similar agencies throughout the various States with mandates and rules governing the State agencies, so it would be uniform action that will prevail and not politics or special interests would be the ruling factor.
I am also in favor of the King-Anderson bill of health care being administered under social security, although I feel that bill doesn't go all the way, it doesn't go quite far enough in providing health care for our senior citizens. Still it is a start in the right direction and can be improved upon at a later date.
Those who do not come under the social security, I would recom. ment that the Congress and Senate enact a bill to take care of these citizens as well.
The social security approach has proven devoid of politics or special interests, but it treats all alike, hence I myself, and I have come in contact with a lot of people who feel the same way, feel that a very great majority of our senior citizens have, in many cases, given their all or practically all and now in their declining years where help is necessary they should as of their right be helped.
This here is an example which I feel should be brought out to counteract those who by misunderstanding or false stating should be told. Several years ago I was in charge of a body of men with the Public Service Co. and had many of them that were paid Saturdays and Monday they were broke. But they spent their all and the various merchants were the beneficiaries of them, and were they not piled into needs and helped when it was so needed, because I found they were not only my best but modest workers as well. That concludes my statement.
Mr. ELLSWORTH. Thank you, Mr. Schade. Did we get into the record the name of your organization ?
Mr. SCHADE. As I said, I think he got the names.