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Social Security Advocate Nancy Altman and Health Economist Stuart Altman Named 2018 Recipients of the Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2018

Contact: Janel Forsythe at (202) 243-7286

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nancy Altman and Stuart Altman (no relation) are the 2018 recipients of the Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance. The 2018 Ball Award was presented by the National Academy of Social Insurance to each Altman on June 27, 2018, at the National Press Club. Guest speakers included Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who announced a new bill to provide additional funding to the Social Security Administration; and David Kautter, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, who also read remarks from former Senator John Danforth (R-MO).  

With hundreds of guests in attendance including top economic and health policy experts from across the country, both Altmans delivered stirring and substantive acceptance speeches. Nancy Altman focused her presentation on Social Security as well as on Medicare, highlighting how American values, broad public support, and administrative efficiency, not just questions of affordability, support efforts to expand and improve these social insurance programs. Stuart Altman’s humor-peppered speech centered on the U.S. healthcare system. He underscored how supporters of Medicare-for-All and of the Affordable Care Act must work together to achieve a mutual goal – guaranteed universal, decent coverage for all Americans. He also pointed out that Medicare and the private insurance market have been moving in opposite directions since the mid-1990s, and cautioned against the implications of this trend for Medicare beneficiaries.   

Nancy J. Altman is president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition. She has a forty-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions and is widely recognized for her advocacy and deep commitment to social insurance. Ms. Altman was appointed to the Social Security Advisory Board by Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi for a six-year term, starting October 1, 2017. A Founding Board Member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, she recently completed two terms on the Academy’s Board of Directors.

Professor Stuart Altman is the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is an economist distinguished for his numerous contributions to federal and state health policy over the past five decades. A Founding Member of the Academy, Professor Altman has influenced countless other experts shaping today’s health care landscape. He has demonstrated leadership in health care policy as a government official and through service on government advisory boards, as well as on a diverse array of non-governmental policy and research groups.

In addition to Senator Sanders and Commissioner Kautter, guest speakers who offered reflections on Nancy Altman’s contributions included Eric Kingson, Professor of Social Work, Syracuse University; and Jonathan Ball, Board Secretary, Social Security Works and son of Bob Ball, for whom the Award is named. Reflecting on Stuart Altman’s achievements, speakers included: Chris Jennings, President, Jennings Policy Strategies, who introduced a special video tribute from former President Bill Clinton; Karen Ignagni, Chief Executive Officer, EmblemHealth; Chip Kahn, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of American Hospitals; and Karen Feinstein, President, Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Since 2004, the Academy has presented the Ball Award to individuals whose recent work has made a significant impact on the U.S. social insurance system. This award honors Bob Ball, Commissioner of Social Security (1962-1973). For over 60 years, Bob Ball worked tirelessly to advance our nation’s social insurance programs.

The National Academy of Social Insurance is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance. Its mission is to advance solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security.