After a year spent gathering facts and opinions about the world of aging, the White House on July 13 held a comprehensive session to discuss what needs to change in the United States.
President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of about 200 aging experts, including Lexington’s i know expo founder, Gale Reece.
Here’s a synopsis of what was said as reported by Next Avenue, public media’s first and only national service for America’s booming 50+ population.
The President affirmed the importance of Social Security and Medicare to the financial security and health of older Americans. Despite what the critics say, “Medicare and Social Security are not in crisis,” he said later adding, “The goal is not to cut back on services, the goal is to get all the services you need and less of what you don’t,” he said.
Ai-Jen Poo, the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a national coalition of 200 advocacy organizations working to transform the long-term care system in the US, with a focus on the needs of aging Americans, people with disabilities, and their caregivers, stressed the importance of establishing systems to support and value the nation’s 50 million caregivers, whose numbers will double by the year 2050.
Nora Super, the executive director of the 2015 WHCOA, welcomed those in Washington, D.C. and those gathered for 600 watching parties in all 50 states. It was her job to seek input from across the country, and having so much participation strengthened the results and proposals, she said.
But not everyone was happy with the invitation-only nature of the event, noting that without delegates in attendance, ideas couldn’t receive full debate.
Mark Miller pointed out for Money.com that too much of the conference agenda felt like a re-hash of ideas the administration has been promoting for years, and that issues such as the diversification of the aging population and economic disparity in retirement savings were ignored.
The President announced steps his administration is taking in the four key areas the conference studied: retirement security, long term services and support, elder justice and healthy aging. His proposals include clarifying rules around how states could provide retirement savings plans similar to 401(k) accounts; updating quality and safety requirements for nursing homes; and introducing access to food for the homebound.
And the launch of two new websites was announced. Aging.gov is a one-stop shop for government-wide information for older adults, and Data.gov, provides government data relevant to aging.
Look for updates on these issues on iknowexpo.org and on the I know expo Facebook page.