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2013 Discussion Archive

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thought for Thanksgiving: Thanks for Social Insurance

Jasmine V. Tucker, National Academy of Social Insurance

In September, the Census Bureau released the official poverty figures for 2012, which showed that 46.4 million Americans (15%) lived in poverty last year. Three vitally important social insurance programs, Social Security, unemployment insurance (UI), and workers' compensation, and a related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), kept the poverty rate from being much higher. Last year, these four programs worked together to keep nearly 26 million Americans above the federal poverty level, which was roughly $12,000 for a non-elderly adult living alone and $23,300 for two non-elderly adults and two children.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Benefit that Robert Ball Wouldn’t Administer

Lisbeth B. Schorr, Center for the Study of Social Policy

It was early 1965 when I sat in on a meeting that was one of a series deliberating the final touches of the legislation that would soon be enacted as Medicare. Those gathered that day were the Undersecretary of HEW, Wilbur Cohen, the Commissioner of Social Security, Robert Ball, a representative of the White House whose name I can no longer remember, and the director of social security for the AFL-CIO, Nelson Cruikshank.

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Posted on November 5, 2013  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What You Need to Know About Social Security’s 2014 COLA

Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance

The Social Security Administration announced today that beneficiaries will see a 1.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) beginning in their January 2014 checks. Benefits are automatically adjusted to keep up with the cost of living.

Key points:

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Posted on October 30, 2013  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Where Does the Commission on Long-Term Care Leave Us?

G. Lawrence Atkins, Federal Commission on Long Term Care and National Academy of Social Insurance

Organizing the delivery and financing of long-term services and supports (LTSS) for people with significant cognitive and physical functional limitations has been a challenge in the U.S. for decades.  Most of the LTSS is provided by family caregivers, but when people need paid services and supports for an extended period they encounter an array of services and providers that can be confusing, frustrating and expensive.  Although the cost of an extended period of LTSS is an insurable risk, this country does not have a well-structured financing approach that protects people or enables people to adequately protect themselves against this risk.  Families and individuals can exhaust their resources paying for LTSS and then have to turn to Medicaid for help.  Medicaid, which today finances two-thirds of paid LTSS, is a major expenditure for federal and state governments that is projected to intensify as LTSS needs double with the aging of the baby boom.

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Posted on October 10, 2013  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Long-Term Services and Supports: The Path Forward

Judy Feder, Urban Institute and Georgetown Public Policy Institute

Laphonza Butler, SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers

Henry Claypool, American Association for People with Disabilities

Judith Stein, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.

Lynnae Ruttledge, National Council on Disability

All eyes are on the Affordable Care Act’s launch, extending health insurance to tens of millions of people without it. Despite the continued political battle, even the ACA’s critics seem to get that insurance is essential to assure access to care and protection against financial catastrophe.

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Posted on October 10, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Long-Term Care Commission: The Good, The Bad, and What’s Next?

Joe Caldwell, National Council on Aging

Howard Bedlin, National Council on Aging

The Long-Term Care Commission faced incredible odds. It originated as a consolation prize for repeal of the CLASS program, struggled to get off the ground, and was charged with solving one of the most challenging issues facing our country—all in less than 100 days. Despite the odds, the Commission managed to generate a lot of buzz about long-term care this summer, at least inside the Beltway. It held four public hearings, gathered nearly 100 outside comments, and delivered a report on time that probably exceeded expectations.

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Posted on October 10, 2013  |  Write the first comment
Monday, September 9, 2013

After the Affordable Care Act, Medicare for All

Laurence Seidman, Professor of Economics, University of Delaware

Eight years ago I wrote in support of a plan similar to the Affordable Care Act and I now support full implementation of the ACA because I believe it will make important improvements in the current system of private employer-provided insurance and individual insurance.  But it is striking how many problems facing the ACA would disappear if the country were instead implementing Medicare-for-All.  It is worth grasping the contrast, because after the ACA has been fully implemented and made its improvements, a strong case will still remain for going beyond the ACA to enact Medicare-for-All.

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Posted on September 9, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Open Letter to the Long Term Care Commission

John Cutler
Senior Policy Analyst, US Office of Personnel Management, The views expressed are my own and not in any official capacity

Bruce Chernof, Chair
Mark Warshawsky Co-Chair

September 2013

Dear Bruce and Mark and Members of the Commission:

Congratulations on an outstanding job in a short amount of time.  I’m one of those people who think it will work out well in the end since I’m not sure more time would allow you to solve the political difficulties of getting to consensus in the current environment.  Only when Congress views it as necessary to “own” this issue will there be substantial movement even though many things can be done by the Administration on its own if shown the way.

Having said that, there are many ideas you can throw out to them to hopefully get some small efforts moving forward.

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Posted on September 5, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Time to Get Moving on a White House Conference on Aging

Anne Montgomery, National Academy of Social Insurance and the Altarum Institute

There’s a reason why the nation has convened a White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) once a decade, and it’s this:  Historically, these seminal events – which involve thousands of people feeding in ideas from communities across the country – have spurred creative consensus at a national level about how apparently intractable current challenges can be practically approached, even as strategies for making promising opportunities a reality over time are also mapped out.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Putting a Human Face on Disability Insurance

Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance

All too often, inside-the-Beltway policy debates focus on dollars and deficits rather than on the millions of real people and real lives that are affected. That’s why it was refreshing to read Michael Hiltzik’s April 2 Los Angeles Times column (“Does Congress have the heart to avert disability crisis?”), which included several stories from real people who rely on Social Security disability insurance.

One of the people quoted in that article was Kira Fisher:

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Posted on April 5, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

We Are a Rich Country: The False Dichotomy of Caring for the Old Versus Burdening the Young

Hannah Weinberger-Divack

Many characterize the debate over the future of social insurance as a clash between the old and the young or the brown and the gray.  Such divisions are short-sighted, however, because the debate over Social Security and Medicare is really a conversation about collective future.  NASI’s 25th annual policy research conference captured the essence of the ongoing struggle for change.  The opening and closing keynotes of the conference clearly captured the dilemma Americans face: we agree that it is time for action, but what action?

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Posted on March 28, 2013  |  Write the first comment
Thursday, March 28, 2013

Immigration: A Solution for Social Security Insolvency?

Madhulika Vulimiri

“As a result of globalization, labor markets are no longer defined by our borders.” When Lisa Lynch of the Heller School of Social Policy and Management made this statement in the opening keynote of the National Academy of Social Insurance’s 25thannual policy conference,  Medicare and Social Security in a Time of Budget Austerity, she was alluding to the increasing role that immigration plays both in our workforce and in our shifting policies around education, healthcare, and Social Security. I was interested to see what the distinguished speakers would say about the politically-charged role of immigration on Social Security, particularly in a time of budget austerity.

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Posted on March 28, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Social Security: The Choice is Ours

Christina Trusty

After leaving the NASI’s 25thannual conference, Medicare and Social Security in a Time of Budget Austerity, I came home to many who were eager to hear of my experience – and I had a lot to share. My family members are not exactly thrilled about my newfound interest in their retirement accounts, Social Security beneficiary status, and their knowledge of the Medicare program’s structure. Despite the whirlwind that was my return home, I noticed one constant in my conversations with peers about my newly acquired knowledge of Social Security.

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Posted on March 28, 2013  |  Write the first comment
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Affordable Health Care Made Today For Tomorrow: Integrated Primary Care

Geoffrey M. Orokos

Like anyone who owns a computer, tablet or smart phone, I am frequently reminded during the budget and sequester discussions that the muscle driving our social insurance programs – our nation’s economic prosperity – is fatigued. With our budget deficit forecasted in 2013 at $845 billion, total debt more than $16.1 trillion, poverty at 15.1 percent and total health care spending near 18 percent GDP – many agree that cause for concern is warranted.

As a mental health case coordinator living and working in New York State’s poorest city-per-capita – I find these talks and statistics particularly unnerving – as one in three Americans receiving Medicare today receive treatment for a cognitive or mental impairment. On my own caseload, more than half of my clients are Medicare recipients.

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Posted on March 28, 2013  |  14 comments  |  Add your comment
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Delaying Retirement: Should Average Life Expectancy Determine Retirement Age?

Tatsuko Go Hollo

These days many Americans, whether political or not, are tuned into discussions about social insurance programs. Retirees and younger generations, alike, are questioning whether Social Security benefits will be ample enough to carry them through their retirement years. Despite solvency for the next two decades, a number of options are being explored to ensure Social Security benefits are available for generations to come. Potential solutions range from those that cut benefits for the long-term to those that increase federal revenues to maintain or boost retiree benefits. A consideration that regularly discussed is the full retirement age and how it relates to the average life expectancy of Americans.

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