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PROBLEMS OF THE AGED AND AGING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1962
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10:05 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 429, Old House Office Building, Hon. Cleveland M. Bailey (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Bailey, Brademas, and Garland. Present also: Robert E. McCord, director. Mr. BAILEY. The subcommittee will be in order. Several years ago a subcommittee headed by our former colleague, Mr. Weir, conducted hearings, and the Committee on Education and Labor reported a bill which authorized a White House Conference on the Aged and Aging.
Many recommendations came from that Conference involving legislation over which this committee has no jurisdiction. Many bills have been introduced, however, establishing a Federal agency of one sort or another to be concerned with the problems of the aged and aging.
These bills have been assigned to this subcommittee. It will be our purpose, in addition to studying these bills from a technical aspect, to study the problems of the older persons and their interrelationship with the problems of unemployment and economic growth.
As an education subcommittee, we intend to fully educate ourselves. Furthermore, we believe we are more than competent to explore the role that education itself should play in resolving some of these problems.
Whatever type of agency is created by legislation we approve, it should be the mission of this subcommittee to establish clearly the congressional intent of its activities.
To accomplish this we must look at the older individual as a whole person, not as just a pensioner, or a hospital patient, or a jobless worker. We want to see the older person, not only in terms of his needs, but also in terms of his contribution as a parent, homeowner, worker, consumer, citizen, and taxpayer. The personal hope of your chairman is that the legislation resulting from these hearings will reflect this broad view of the place of the older person in the family, the community, and the Nation.
Today we have invited Members of Congress who have introduced legislation to testify. It is desirable to get started. During the next few months we hope to have field hearings, and then conclude our studies with further hearings here in Washington. We cannot hope, in a few weeks, to make as thorough and extensive a study as has
been made in the other body, but we do intend to conduct sufficient hearings to enable us to legislate intelligently.
It is my pleasure to introduce our first witness this morning, the Honorable Thomas J. Lane of Massachusetts.
Mr. Lane, you may further identify yourself to the reporter and proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS J. LANE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. LANE. Mr. Chairman, first may I introduce myself as Congressman Thomas J. Lane from the Seventh Massachusetts District and to express to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the members of your General Subcommittee on Education, House Education and Labor Committee, and the staff of your committee my appreciation for the opportunity to make a statement here in behalf of a bill that I have filed, together with, I assume, other companion bills, to present a declaration of objectives for senior Americans, provide for the establishment of the U.S. Office of Aging within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to be headed by an Assistant Secretary for Aging, and to authorize Federal grants to assist in the development and operation of studies and projects to help older persons and, of course, for other purposes.
I am more than thankful for the opportunity to speak at this time, Mr. Chairman, because of the fact that I wish to go along to my own committee because we have some very important legislation before that committee this morning for executive action.
So, may I say, Mr. Chairman and members of your very important committee, that it was 26 years ago that the Nation woke up to the serious and sometimes desperate economic problems of the aged. For many years previous to 1935, this problem had been relegated to the background—like the aged themselves.
I was more than pleased, Mr. Chairman, when I heard your announcement here this morning that your committee intends to go out into the field and to take some testimony and to hold hearings throughout the length and breadth of the United States, because I think in that way the attention of his type of legislation will be properly focused before this committee and that your members will have an opportunity to hear these people personally throughout the country. I think that is an excellent way to obtain evidence for this committee because I think that you will get it from the locality and you can hear it from the people personally and get their advice, recommendations, and suggestions.
The harsh realities of the depression stripped away the careless but comfortable attitude of ignoring problems, and revealed the fact that millions of the aged were destitute, or so dependent on others that they were "charity cases” in the homes of their own children.
The conscience of the Nation was aroused. Through the pressure of public opinion, the Congress passed and the President signed the Social Security Act. At intervals since then, the act has been broadened and strengthened, to provide economic security for the aged.
As time went on we discovered that the monthly social security checks were only a partial solution of the many-faceted problems re
lating to aging. The aged themselves told us of their needs. From the petitions of their various groups and organizations, and I daresay every Member of Congress has from time to time received petitions from groups back home and organizations that are interested in this subject matter, I wish to select the following as speaking for all.
It is the “Senior Citizens Bill of Rights," drawn up by the Desmond Committee of New York State that appeared in the pamphlet “Once in a Lifetime," published by the National Association of Retired Civil Employees. Each of our senior citizens, regardless of race, color, or creed, is entitled to
1. The right to an opportunity to continue to be useful.
2. The right to an equal opportunity to obtain employment based on merit, not birthdays.
3. The right to freedom from the specter of want in old age and burial in a pauper's grave.
4. The right to a fair share of the community's recreational, educational, and medical resources.
5. The right to obtain decent housing suited to the needs of later years.
6. The right to the respect of the community, based on service to the community.
7. The right to the support of one's family to an extent consonant with the best interest of the family.
8. The right live independently, as one chooses.
9. The right to live with dignity as a free human being unfettered by antiquated concepts of the "proper role of old people."
10. The right of access to all available knowledge on how to make the later years happy years. The Senate Subcommittee on Problems of the Aged and Aging, created by the Senate resolution in February 1959, was the first congressional body delegated to conduct a comprehensive study of all the difficulties faced by the aged and what can be done to ease them. The first major subcommittee report listed 12 recommendations for legislation concerning such problems as the financing of medical care, nursing homes, social security benefits, housing, employment, and social services for the aged.
With several agencies of the Federal Government, each authorized to carry out one aspect of the overall program, and with States, communities, and nonprofit institutions and organizations "in the picture," there is apt to be confusion, duplication, and even “blind spots” of neglect, through lack of coordination.
I believe that your committee realizes the need for a central office to serve as a clearinghouse for information related to problems of the aged and the aging; to develop research and demonstration programs; to administer grants that will help the States to develop their programs; to gather statistics in the field of aging that other agencies are not collecting; to stimulate more effective use of existing resources and available services; and to assist the new programs as they develop through separate bills that are passed by Congress.
I appear in support of H.R. 710, which I introduced on January 3, 1961. Its purpose is to present a declaration of objectives for senior Americans; provide for the establishment of a U.S. Office of Aging within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to be headed by an Assistant Secretary for Aging; authorize Federal grants to assist in the development and operation of studies and projects to help older persons, and for other purposes."
H.R. 710 will authorize project grants totaling $70 million over a period of 4 years to assist the States in furthering the policies set forth in this act. Above all, it will bring together Federal-State-local relationships in the field of the aging on an integrated, across departmental lines, basis.
To coordinate the work of all public agencies from the national to the local level that will be responsible for the comprehensive program to benefit the aging that is well on its way, it is essential to establish a U.S. Office of Aging.
I respectfully suggest that H.R. 710 will be effective in meeting that need.
This is legislation that has been pending for some time and I think that it merits favorable consideration of your very, very important committee, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Brademas, do you have some questions?
Mr. BRADEMAS. I would like only, Mr. Chairman, to salute the distinguished gentleman, our colleague from Massachusetts, on his concern about the problems of the aging. I know that my old boss, Senator Pat McNamara, of Michigan, has probably done more to dramatize the importance of the problems of the older citizens of our society than has any other Member of Congress in either body.
It, I think, is particularly significant that our colleague from Massachusetts should be showing the same kind of leadership and I thank him very much for coming before our committee this morning.
Mr. LANE. Thank you, Congressman Brademas. I know that this is a subject matter that you have been personally interested in over a long period of time for
. I also want to say, Congressman, that Senator McNamara, when he came up to Boston, had one of the finest hearings that was ever held in the United States. It was well attended. In fact, there was a lot of very important evidence submitted there by various people who were interested in these programs coming from all walks of life. Not only those who would benefit by such a program but other people who have studied the subject matter for many, many years and know whereof they speak and Senator McNamara, I feel, have made wonderful contributions in their efforts to bring about legislation on this subject matter.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GARLAND. I do not have any questions to ask. I would like to apologize for coming in late but I was in outer space with Glenn.
Mr. LANE. I know you are busy in your office, too, and, of course, we are competing with something of a historical nature.
Mr. GARLAND. Everything is going along fine, by the way.
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Lane, may I ask you a question? On page 5 of your bill, section 301, you provide there for distribution to the States for carrying on their programs an amount of $2,090,000 to remain available until expended. Is that all that is involved in this? ?
I notice that you have a provision at the top of page 7 for some authorization. You did not state to the committee the length of your proposal, did you? I notice on page 7, title 4, project grants.
Mr. LANE. As I stated, Mr. Chairman, this would provide for an appropriation over a period of 4 years. It will authorize a grant totaling $70 million over a period of 4 years.
Mr. BAILEY. Then this was introduced at the previous session of Congress?
Mr. LANE. That is right.
Mr. BAILEY. You will note there on line 8 of page 7, it makes available for the year ending June 30, 1961, the sum of $15 million.
Mr. LANE. That, of course, will be changed. I imagine there will be many, many parts of the bill that can be amended by your committee.
Mr. Bailey. These are authorizations regularly appropriated by the Congress?
Mr. LANE. That is right.
STATEMENT OF HON. GRACIE PFOST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IDAHO
Mrs. PFOST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BAILEY. Congresswoman, you may further identify yourself to the reporter and proceed to explain your legislation.
Mrs. PFOST. Thank you. My name is Gracie Pfost. I represent the First Congressional District in Idaho. That is the beautiful part of Idaho, Mr. Chair
, man, the one where we have lots of rivers and lakes and pine trees, and so forth.
Mr. GARLAND. And potatoes.
Mr. BAILEY. Might the chairman add, an area where the people grow to a ripe old age.
Mrs. Prost. Indeed, and very happily so.
Mr. Chairman and members of the General Subcommittee on Education, I certainly appreciate being afforded the opportunity to appear here today to testify on behalf of my bill, H.R. 3071. As you know, it would establish a Senior Citizens Service within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and would initiate a Federal assistance program to encourage State, local, and charitable organizations in their work to help our senior citizens.
I want to emphasize right at the start that I am not urging the creation of another bureau in the Federal Government.
It is my impression and that of many others both here and in Idaho that the Government has too many bureaus already.
This legislation would bring together for more efficient operation and utilization of services the divisions, sections, and offices within the HEW which are already deeply concerned with the problems of the aging;
I would also emphasize that the subcommittee give serious attention to the naming of the agency in its report to the full Committee on Education and Labor.
Any person well up in years does not like to be referred to as an "old man” or an "old woman." There is something about that phrase
” that is lacking in dignity.