The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill continuing the Older Americans Act. This seems to be in keeping with a series of events this summer that speak to the aging revolution now under way in this country, and around much of the world.
If you get the AARP Bulletin, as I do, you saw the current issue (july/August 2015) highlighting the 80th anniversary this month of the passage of Social Security. The Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt in August of 1935. The Bulletin articles detail some of the lamenting of foes to the concept. 80 years later, no one laments the act, just the fear that the fund will not be available for our grandchildren. The articles , by the way, go on to assure us that this is not the case but do urge the candidates running for President in 2016 to look at this issue.
Equally as momentus this summer is the 50th annivesary on July 30, of the passage of Medicare and Medicaid programs. 50 years if Medicare/Medicaid and 80 of Social Security! How many lives have been impacted, or saved, even? As the articles in the AARP BUlletin point out, Boomers are now in the “upending” traditional views of these programs. Up to recent years it was a normal consideration that someone would retire at 65 and take Social Security and enroll in Medicare. “Today, a new generation is upending those assumptions. By choice or necessity, almost 1/3 of boomers ages 65-69 are in the workforce”.
What we take for granted now was also, once, controversial. Just imagine, given the current realities, what it would be like for millions of Boomers and those of our parents’ generation if these programs did not exist. Despite the faults that may exist, these programs have had a profoundly positive impact on our world and will continue to do so for our generation. So, maybe this summer, take a moment to recognize the leadership of Roosevelt and Johnson in passing these programs.
I hope the summer is treating you with kindness.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min