On June 13 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered the following speech before the National Council of Senior Citizens. It was published in the November 9, 1963 issue of the New Republic to coincide with hearings on the King-Anderson bill, which was intended to contribute to the costs of care for the elderly. Hearings were interrupted when the President was assassinated later that month.

“I do not know any problem or remedy more obvious which now faces the Congress of the United States. The average older couple has about $50 a week to live on. The average older person living alone has about $20 a week. There is no room … for a serious illness. …

“The person who has no resources—he gets a kind of treatment. He indicates that he is needy and he gets some sort of help. But there is another person who I think is one that concerns us a good deal, and that is the person who may have $3,000 or $4,000 saved up, or who may own their own house with a mortgage, and may have two children who may be in their 40’s. If that person gets sick the husband or the wife, they are in the hospital for more than two weeks, maybe two or three months, and there isn’t anyone in this room who has not had a member of his family in the hospital at one stage or another of his life for a long time, and who does not know how much it can cost. So it may run up to $1,000 or $2,000 or even higher. …

“Now, the program we suggested will provide that he will set aside during his working years an average of $13 a year, not a burden for anyone employed, $13 a year. And that man and woman will know when they are over 65 that they will never be a burden upon their children and never be a charity case upon the national government because they will have earned their way, and that is what we want. …

“There isn’t a country in Western Europe that didn’t do what we are doing 50 years ago or 40 years ago, not a single country that is not way ahead of this rich, productive, progressive country of ours. We are not suggesting something radical and new or violent. We are not suggesting that the government come between the doctor and his patient. We are suggesting what every other major, developed, intelligent country did for its people a generation ago. I think it is time the United States caught up.”