Public Policy & Aging E-Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 5, September 2010
This bimonthly e-newsletter highlights key developments
and viewpoints in the field of aging policy from a wide variety
of sources, including articles and reports circulating in the media,
academy, think tanks, private sector, government and nonprofit organizations.
The goal of this email publication is to reach teachers, students,
and citizens interested in aging-related issues, especially those
who may not have sufficient access to policy information disseminated
both in Washington and around the country.
Want the most up-to-date access to aging policy resources?
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I. WHATS HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON?
A. New Realities of an Older America: Challenges, Changes and Questions:
The challenges of Baby Boomers reaching old age, combined with a growing,
more diverse population, will drive major changes in U.S. families,
workplaces and communities, according to new report
from the Stanford Center on Longevity. The implications concern the
entire society, and even though many of these changes could have been
anticipated, the United States continues to rely on social and economic
policies and practices designed for a relatively youthful population.
This report frames the critical issues and underscores the urgency
of effectively addressing the anticipated challenges with relevant
public policies. For a summary of key findings, click here.
B. Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation,
and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change: This Urban Institute report
examines retirement patterns over the past three decades, and finds
that older adults now work longer and take more complex routes out
of the labor force than previous cohorts. The report compares labor
force exits by older workers in three cohorts-the G.I. Generation,
the Silent Generation, and the Baby Boom Generation. Changes in retirement
plans can be partially attributed to improved health of older adults,
less physically demanding jobs, defined contribution retirement plans,
and disappearing employer-sponsored retiree health benefits.
C. Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being: The Federal
Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics released a report
providing the latest data on 37 key indicators selected to portray
aspects of the lives of older Americans and their families. Data are
divided into five subject areas: population, economics, health status,
health risks and behaviors, and health care. Examples of indicators
include racial and ethnic composition, participation in the labor
force, out of pocket health care expenditures, and chronic health
II. WHATS HAPPENING AROUND THE COUNTRY?
A. Extra Federal Support for Medicaid: This policy
brief by Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
explains the debate surrounding whether or not Congress will extend
increased funding for states' Medicaid programs by six months to
avert potentially drastic state spending cuts. Under the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act, states received increased federal
funding for their Medicaid programs-known as FMAP-however, this
funding is set to expire at the end of 2010. Two-thirds of states
are expected to cut jobs or services, including services to older
adults and their caregivers, in 2011 if the funding is not extended.
B. Quick Health Facts 2010: A Compilation of Selected State Data:
This set of AARP fact
sheets provides a snapshot of each state's health care landscape
by providing comparable state-level and national data for over 70
indicators. The data reflect current health care priorities, with
a particular focus on information relevant to the provisions of
the recently passed health care reform legislation. Findings include
the number of adults age 50+ eligible for health insurance premium
and cost-sharing assistance (starting in 2014) and the number of
Medicare Part B beneficiaries who paid an income-related premium
C.Geographic Variation in Medicare Drug Spending: This New England
Journal of Medicine report
shows the rising costs of pharmaceutical drug spending, which is
a major contributor to overall Medicare spending. With drug spending
accounting for a rising share of total health care costs, this report
examines whether Medicare patients who spend more on pharmaceuticals
to control their chronic conditions have fewer physician visits,
therefore reducing total variation - or do more physician visits
lead to more prescriptions, thus amplifying variation? Two maps
included in the report focus on state-by-state variations in annual
drug spending and total medical spending per beneficiary.
III. THIS ISSUE'S MAJOR POLICY STORY: 75th Anniversary of Social
Seventy-five years after Franklin Delano Roosevelt
signed the measure into law, Social Security remains the cornerstone
of U.S. social policy. The program that has do so much to relieve
old-age dependency is efficient and effective. Yet Social Security
remains almost as controversial and misunderstood as it was in 1935.
(See how the Heritage Foundation interprets the latest Social Security
Trustees Report [III.E]). Part III offers a balanced assessment
of Social Security's current and anticipated viability. I personally
believe that adjustments in earnings levels (and some other minor
changes) will suffice to eliminate the doomsday scenarios that frighten
Americans. Medicare reform is another matter; that will be our Major
Policy Issue in November.
A. Social Security 75th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion
Trends: According to this AARP report
on the 75th anniversary of Social Security, public support for the
program remains exceedingly high. Consistent with previous anniversary
surveys in 2005, 1995, and 1985, a majority of adults age 18 and
older believe Social Security is one of the most important government
programs and that it provides financial security to older Americans
and helps them remain independent. While many are concerned about
the future of Social Security, their lack of confidence does not
diminish their support for it.
B. Social Security at 75: Building Economic Security, Narrowing
the Racial Wealth Divide: This Insight Center policy
brief considers the past performance and future prospects for
Social Security beneficiaries of color. It argues that policymakers
need to understand the importance of Social Security for members
of racial and ethnic groups, which will become the majority of the
U.S. population in a few decades. The brief notes that 92 percent
of African Americans, 90 percent of Latinos, and 86 percent of whites
feel Social Security benefits are worth the cost because they play
a crucial role in keeping these vulnerable populations out of poverty.
It concludes with recommendations for how to strengthen Social Security
to meet the needs of beneficiaries of color.
C. Social Security Keeps 20 Million Americans Out of Poverty: A
State-By-State Analysis: According to the latest Census data, 19.8
million Americans would be poor without Social Security. This Center
on Budget and Policy Priorities report
examines the role of Social Security in keeping individuals out
of poverty. The report features state-by-state data on Social Security
beneficiaries and the percentage living in poverty.
D. Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2010 Trustees Report:
This National Academy of Social Insurance report
summarizes results from the 2010 Trustees report on the status of
the Social Security trust funds. According to the findings, annual
surpluses in the trust funds are projected to continue for the next
15 years, but beginning in 2025, reserves will start to be drawn
down to pay benefits. In 2037, the reserves are projected to be
depleted. At that time, tax income coming into the trust funds will
cover about 78 percent of benefits due. To view the complete text
of the 2010 Trustees Report, click here.
E. 2010 Social Security Trustees Report: Reform Needed Now: This
Heritage Foundation report
describes the need for Social Security Reform based on the yearly
deficits predicted in the 2010 Trustees Report. Alhough the Trustees
Report shows that Social Security payments are secure for another
five years, Social Security already owes $7.9 trillion more in benefits
this year than it will receive in tax revenues. This report reviews
three scenarios for the future of Social Security based on differing
assumptions about the economy, and argues that the time for reform
is now-delay only will make each challenge harder to address.
IV. WORTH NOTING
A. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: Aging and Poverty: This
recently updated online
resource compiles the latest academic research, headline news,
and commentaries on aging and poverty. As more Baby Boomers approach
the retirement eligibility age, experts and advocates are concerned
that the poverty rate among older Americans will increase. Supported
by The Atlantic Philanthropies, The AARP Foundation, and other national
foundations, the website aims to draw attention to poverty rates
for older Americans, particularly the high rates of poverty among
older women, and racial and ethnic minorities.
B. Tel Aviv University Announces $1 Million Dollar Prize to the
Field of Aging: The Dan
David Prize, sponsored annually by Tel Aviv University, covers
three time dimensions-Past, Present and Future-that represent realms
of human achievement. Three prizes of one million US dollars each
are granted annually in the fields chosen for each time dimension.
The 2011 Dan David Prize for the future time dimension will be awarded
to an individual(s) who has significantly contributed to the elucidation
of the aging process and to the application of this understanding
for the benefit of mankind.
C. GSA to Host 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans: GSA's
Public Policy Committee invites you to participate in our featured
Policy Series and other policy-related sessions. Policy sessions
include "Speak-Out! Social Security & Women" and "Transforming
and Rebalancing Long-Term Care Services: Lessons Learned and Challenges
Ahead." View the preliminary
program for more information on the symposia included as part
of the policy series. You can attend these sessions by registering
for the Annual Scientific Meeting (November 19-23). Click here
for more information about the Annual Meeting and to register.
V. WHAT'S HAPPENING ABROAD?
A. China: China's Rapidly Aging Population: This Population Reference
describes the rapid aging of China's population over the past two
decades. As a result of China's one-child policy and low mortality
rate, the proportion of older citizens will continue to grow very
quickly, thus increasing the challenges that face the nation's already
troubled health care system. The report reviews how policymakers
are learning from current research on China's oldest-old (age 80+),
and the dilemmas in meeting their health care needs.
B. Fiscal Policy and Sustainability in View of Crisis and Population
Ageing in Central and Eastern European Countries: This European
Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research issue
brief examines the impact of population aging on the sustainability
of public finances in the wake of the recent economic crisis. The
rapid aging of European populations, caused by a combination of
longevity gains, falling fertility and emigration, will have a significant
impact on public finances of many European states. European governments
are looking for a mix of proactive economic and social policies
not only to strengthen their recovery from the crisis, but also
improve public finances.
C. Dynamic Social Security for the Americas: Strength Through Diversity:
Notwithstanding the role of Social Security programs in responding
to crisis, the countries of the Americas are building more extensive
and better-performing social security systems. This International
Social Security Association report
highlights the growing role of social dialogue in policy-making,
and discusses the financial and economic crisis and its implications
for Social Security financing in the Americas. Additionally, the
report critically evaluates the social policy outcomes of individual
accounts, pension systems, and cash transfer programs.
VI. PERSPECTIVES ON POLICY: ROB HUDSON, EDITOR, PP&AR
The latest issue of Public Policy & Aging Report, sponsored
by The SCAN Foundation, focuses on the Community Living Assistance
Services and Supports (CLASS) Act - a largely overlooked component
of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "Bringing
CLASS to Long-Term Care Through the Affordable Care Act" shows
how the CLASS Act has the potential to transform long-term care
financing in the United States from a welfare-based to an insurance-based
system. This installment of PP&AR features seven articles
that recount the origins of the CLASS Act, analyze the legislation's
key provisions, and explore potential hurdles of implementation.
The authors include Lisa Shugarman, PhD, of The SCAN Foundation;
Joshua Wiener, PhD, of RTI International; Walter Dawson of Oxford
University; Barbara Manard, PhD, of the American Association of
Homes and Services for the Aging; Anne Tumlinson, MMHS, of Avalere
Health; Rhonda Richards of AARP; and Kathryn Roberts, PhD, of Ecumen.
To read the full press release from The Gerontological Society of
America, click here.
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Newsletter Editors: Dani Kaiserman, Sarah Frey, and Greg O'Neill,
National Academy on an Aging Society; Andy Achenbaum, University
The Public Policy and Aging E-Newsletter is supported in part
by a grant from the AARP Office of Academic Affairs.