Academic Master

Laws and International Laws

A Review of the Old American Act 1965

The main aim of the Old American Act was to develop the individuals lives which are older and have problems concerning community service, employment, housing and mental health. It was the first legislature authorized to bring together the private ageing network and fragmented public delivery system to meet the basic requirements of older individuals. This act stipulates that agencies on ageing must be established to supervise these ageing establishments. It should be noted that the Old American Act (OAA) was erected to accompany Medicaid and Medicare.

Historical Background

The OAA was passed as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society reforms. What allowed for the passage of these reforms and the OAA was the correct mix of political energies coming together at the right time. Organized political groups for the aged grew during the late 1950s to mid-1960s. These included (AARP) The American Association of Retired Persons, (NCSC) The National Council of Senior Citizens and (NRTA) The National Retired Teachers’ Association (Binstock, 1978).

These organizations provided a powerful instrument for developing a cohesive voting bloc and political leverage for older adults. Older adults constituted as much as 16 per cent of the electoral vote during the mid-1960s (Binstock, 1978). During this same timeframe, in 1959, The Standing Subcommittee on Aging of the Senate Committee on Labor and Social Welfare was established. This committee morphed into The Senate Special Committee on Aging (SSCA) in 1961. Both were established by Senator Pat McNamara of Michigan and provided many testimonies, reports, and hearings of the problems older adults faced by experts and the public (Binstock, 1978). The SSCA formed ties with the ageing organizations, and although the special committee had no legislative power, they could assist these organizations in creating legislative proposals (Binstock, 1978). In addition, the NCSC became an organizing basis for “senior citizen” groups and lobbied extensively for ageing issues (Binstock, 1978).

Aging issues were rising on the political agenda in Washington, which generated a joint resolution in Congress authorizing the first White House Conference on Aging in Washington D.C. in January of 1961. This conference helped build authority and provided a consensus of recommendations for public policy of the aged at a national level. In addition, the Democratic landslide in the 1964 election proved to be the most liberal House since 1938 (Congress is Nobodies [sic] Lap Dog, 1965) and has been considered by many as the most productive legislative body to date (Tumulty, 2014). These forces combined opened the policy window wide, leading to the passage of the OAA.

Need for OAA

The main reason this act was formulated accounts for four basic problems that older citizens of the society faced at that time. These problems largely comprise insecurity in getting social and health services, income uncertainty, and other opportunities to sustain a productive and complete lifestyle. In many regions, the amount needed to assist these senior citizens was far lower to fulfil their filial responsibility, and restrictive residences, and residency necessities limited public help. Because of this, barriers were established which hinder older persons from getting adequate aid through Disability Insurance, Survivor, and Old Age social security. Before Medicare and OAA, every third individual was overage living under the line of poverty.

Earlier Problem Handling

In earlier times, there was not much economic security for older citizens because very few people reached an older age. Old-style causes of financial security are comprised of charities, families, labour, and assets. Similarly, large families often account for the source of economic security for the aged and many states have filial responsibility laws (Moody & Sasser, 2012).

The Social Security Act created a social insurance program for workers age 65 years or older funded through contributory payments made to a joint fund during persons’ economically productive years (Social Security Administration, 2015). The act also provided states with means-tested Old-Age-Assistance grants and was intended to be a temporary “relief” program (Social Security Administration, 2015). Dependent and Survivor benefits were added in the 1939 Amendments.

The act aimed to protect against unexpected dangers of modern life including old age, widowhood, unemployment, poverty and disability. Social Security was of reasonable success as it lifted the poverty level of older Americans from more than 50 per cent during the Great Depression to 32 per cent in 1960 (Moody & Sasser, 2012).

Changing Policy over Time

This policy was continuously been changed over time in the perception of its Amendments. The representation of the OAA, congress has amended and reauthorized the act many times. Its course was defined in many stages, such as the ‘Initial implementation stage.’ During the initial years, management on ageing was inattentive with guessing its part as the dominant figure in ageing policy. The main concern was that they included low-income elders or all older citizens.

The ‘Title-III’ grant program was been strengthened in the 1969 amendment and allowed model projects to meet the necessities of old age citizens. Similarly, the National Older Volunteer Program was one of the major changes in the 1969 amendment.

Policy Implementation

Subsequent amendments and passage of OAA created the ageing network which in today’s society consists of a challenging edifice made up of and links two Native Hawaiian organizations, Title VI grants to 246 Indian tribes, 629 Area Agencies on Aging, 56 State Units on Aging, The Administration on Aging, The Administration for Community Living, The Department of Health and Human Services and some 29,000 providers delivering services to older adults (Wacker & Roberto, 2014).

Policy Effectiveness

The original act did little in the way of instructing outcome measures of the effectiveness of the OAA. The Welfare, Education and Secretary was allowed to provide technical assistance and consultative services to public or nonprofit institutions, agencies, and organizations to conduct studies and circulate reports of the developments subsidized under the OAA. Currently, section 206 (Title-II) suggests that the Secretary is authorized to evaluate and measure the impact of all programs sanctioned by this Act, their efficiency in attaining stated goals in general, and their efficiency in directing for facilities under this Act unserved older persons with greatest social and economic need. Assessments shall be steered by individuals not directly involved in the management of the project or program that was been evaluated. Moreover, the Secretary is to get input from administrations representing older grownup programs and needs accomplices about the weaknesses and strengths of the programs (Administration for Community Living, 2006).

Policy Analysis

Discrimination and inequality in education and economic compensation, along with continuing and past racism, sexism, and ageism in public assistance policies, housing practices, and employment were the primary underlying inequalities that contributed to the leading problems for older adults in 1965. Inequalities were being realized at an accelerated pace in the 1960s. It was a time of civic unrest and betterment. The OAA was a momentous legislature that addressed some of these inequalities since the passage of the OAA, the knowledge and understanding of the older adult population has expanded tremendously.

The older adult poverty rate has decreased, and there is a strong movement for cultural change and holistic living among our seniors and professionals. In 1959, 35 per cent of older adults lived below the poverty line compared to 9 per cent in 2006 (Karger & Stoesz, 1994). Of the 10 objectives of the OAA, five could be said to address equality issues directly. They are An adequate income in retirement, the best possible physical and mental health, suitable and affordable housing, the opportunity for employment free of age discrimination, and efficient and available community services which provide social assistance.



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