William J. Arnone, National Academy of Social Insurance
What does the outcome of last Tuesday’s election mean for the future of social insurance in the United States?
Although the core elements of our nation’s social insurance structure – Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation, and Unemployment Insurance – were given little attention during the debates, a new Administration and Congress will no doubt take a hard look at the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities confronting these essential programs. Vital protections provided by other key programs within the scope of the National Academy of Social Insurance – such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and especially the Affordable Care Act – are facing serious challenges.
With every national election, the Academy needs to evoke its mission statement – to advance solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security – and to question what role it should take in the years ahead. The significance and possible consequences of this election – as well as 2017 marking the 30th anniversary of our founding – present an opportunity to build a renewed commitment to our future.
The Academy’s evidence-based work will be even more valuable to the American people during trying times like these. The message remains clear: social insurance provides economic security to – and is strongly supported by – workers regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. Social insurance is particularly valuable to low- and moderate-income workers, many of whom cast their votes for the President-elect.
As a Founding Board member and now CEO of the Academy, I urge you to support our efforts to promote a candid, robust, and constructive exchange of ideas at this critical time in our country’s history, with the aim of holding our new leadership accountable for preserving the crucial role that social insurance plays in the lives of all Americans.
We are currently working on a Report to the New Leadership and the American People on Social Insurance and Inequality. This Report is being drafted with input from 85 Academy Members with diverse views and from a range of disciplines. The Report will not make specific policy recommendations. Instead, it will provide an up-to-date evidence-based analysis of the current state of our nation’s social insurance infrastructure and will identify a comprehensive menu of policy options to address the income and health security challenges facing the nation. It will also highlight several risks affecting millions of Americans that are not currently addressed by social insurance. Our Report will be submitted to the President-Elect’s Transition Team, as well as to key Members of Congress. The Academy’s Annual Policy Conference will feature a selection of policy topics discussed in the Report. It will serve as a forum for policy makers and thought leaders to discuss the Report’s analysis of our nation’s central economic security challenges and policy options to address them.
Working with Academy members and your organizations, we aim to elevate the national policy dialogue. Throughout 2017, we will use the contents of the Report as a major vehicle to educate and engage the American people, especially those who have the most at stake in our country’s social insurance structure.
I trust that we will emerge with a renewed conviction that social insurance plays an indispensable social and economic role in the United States, which we cannot afford to overlook or compromise, and that the Academy did, does, and will continue to play an essential and unique role.