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Our Forgotten Americans Conference

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View the recorded webcast, courtesy of Kaiser Family foundation.


October 19, 2007

On October 19, 2007 the Justice Partnership hosted a day of thought-provoking analysis and re-commitment to advocacy for low-income older people. Our conference, entitled Forgotten Americans: The Future of Support for Low-Income Older Adults, celebrated 35 years of advocacy for older Americans by the National Senior Citizens Law Center and 21 years of advocacy by the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Rather than simply host a celebration, we decided that a more stimulating and useful way to mark our anniversaries would be to sponsor a seminar to think creatively about how the next 21 to 35 years might affect the lives of our clients.

One important goal of the conference was to connect the parallel universes of social policy analysts and policy-makers with advocacy groups. It is vital that the legitimate needs of older Americans at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder be taken into account in any debate over the social contract with older Americans, especially during the Presidential election season.

Tricia Neuman, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, opened the day with an overview of demographic trends among older, low-income Americans.

Marilyn Moon, from the American Institutes for Research, delved into some of the factors behind these trends and what they mean for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Bruce Vladeck used his experience as Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS) under President Clinton to comment on the values and drawbacks of public and private delivery systems.

Professor Theodore Marmor, from Yale University, explored the relative roles of public and private sectors in serving the interests of the public.

Barbara Kennelly, former Congresswoman and president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, described the major issues for low-income people underlying plans to change the financing of Social Security.

Simon Lazarus of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, with Sally Hart and Gill Deford from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, analyzed the historical value and current vulnerability of advocacy and litigation in ensuring proper implementation of safety net programs and civil rights for older people.

Other illustrious commentators included: Robert Greenstein, of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Professor Timothy Jost, of Washington and Lee University Law School, and Vicki Gottlich of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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