For Immediate Release | August 12, 2021


William Arnone, CEO,

The new, interdisciplinary Policy Translation Working Group of the Academy’s COVID-19 Task Force is co-chaired by economists, Henry Aaron, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and Katherine Baicker, Dean and Professor, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. (Full list below.) 

Aaron and Baicker are working with a range of experts from economics, nursing, public health, social work, sociology, law, and other disciplines to tackle some of the big policy questions that arose during the pandemic: How well did social insurance programs, including Unemployment Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security, and Medicare, work during the onslaught of COVID-19? What might we do to improve and strengthen these programs for the future? 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significant policy implications for Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation,” said Katherine Baicker, who is leading the Health Security subgroup of the Policy Translation Working Group. “Building on the work of the Epidemiology Working Group chaired by Dr. Neil Powe, our Policy Translation Working Group is focused on analyzing and identifying tradeoffs for a range of policy options to improve the robustness of social insurance programs.” 

The Academy’s COVID-19 Task Force is aimed at helping policymakers, administrators, and other stakeholders with their work to improve the nation’s social insurance infrastructure – especially programs that provide protections for groups hardest hit by the pandemic, including older people, persons with disabilities, and communities of color.  

“Our systems have to be better designed for potential future catastrophes, like recessions and income shocks that result from a pandemic or other disasters. The Policy Translation Working Group will suggest strategies to reduce the fallout,” says Henry Aaron, who is leading the Income Security subgroup. “Implications for modifications to Social Security clearly must be addressed, as well as the state of Unemployment Insurance and other critical sources of economic security.”  

COVID-19 Task Force, Policy Translation Working Group Members: 

Marcus Casey, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Illinois 

Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project 

Matthew Fiedler, Fellow, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy 

Merrill Friedman, RVP, Inclusive Policy & Advocacy, Anthem, Inc.  

Robert Greenstein, Founder, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution Hamilton Project 

Pamela Herd, Professor of Economics, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University  

Colleen Grogan, Professor, Social Policy, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, University of Chicago 

Vivian Ho, James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and Director, Center for Health and Biosciences, Rice University; Professor, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine 

Marsha Lillie-Blanton, Associate Research Professor, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health 

Nicole Maestas, Associate Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School 

Jewel Mullen, Associate Dean for Health Equity, Dell Medical School, University of Texas – Austin 

Mary D. Naylor, Marian S. Ware Professor in Gerontology and Director, NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing 

Edwin Park, Research Professor, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy 

Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, University of Chicago  

Diane Schanzenbach, Margaret Walker Alexander Professor, School of Education and Social Policy, and Director, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University  

Kosali Simon, Herman Wells Professor, O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington 

Emily Spieler, Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law 

Lyman Stone, Adjunct Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and Research Fellow, Institute for Family Studies 

Michael Strain, Senior Fellow and Director, Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute 

Paul N. Van de Water, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

Principal Investigator: Louise Sheiner, Robert S. Kerr Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, and Policy Director, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution 


The Policy Translation Working Group will issue policy briefs and a final report in 2022. The Working Group will also seek input from stakeholder groups representing the perspectives of various communities and beneficiaries. The Academy thanks Anthem, Inc., Arnold Ventures, Kaiser Permanente, and the RRF Foundation for Aging for their support of this project. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please contact William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer, at   

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Comprised of over 1,200 Members – the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs – the Academy studies how social insurance may continue to meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers, including uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter. 

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