Friday, January 30, 2009

Healthcare Reform is Coming...Soon.

The public wants health reform, and wants it now according to a survey conducted by researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. In terms of what Americans think should be in the economic stimulus package, newly affordable health insurance coverage comes in second, only behind helping businesses help or create jobs.

We have already seen small strides toward health care reform in the quickly moving SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) legislation and the allocation of funds in the stimulus package for extended unemployment insurance and other health related issues. Healthcare reform was a huge part of President Obama’s campaign promises and seems to have taken a back seat to the stimulus package. But, if you look carefully, the House and draft Senate versions of the stimulus package have hints of healthcare reform sprinkled throughout that may be a teaser of what’s to come.

Today I attended the National Academy of Social Insurance Roundtable “Preparing the Path to Long-Term Care Reform” which discussed long-term care advocacy and the lack of its mention in the new stimulus package. There is mention of additional funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), but discussion arose as to just how likely that funding is to assist elders directly.

One general consensus is that, if adequately allocated, funding toward WIA will open doors to address long-term care since there are portions of the House version that specifically mention training programs for healthcare employees.

For elders, healthcare reform could help lower costs which is a positive considering its currently the first or second highest out-of-pocket expense for single elders, according to Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index available in Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin. In some states, when housing costs are low, health care can amount to the largest expense for elder couples.

It will be interesting to see what the new administration does in regards to healthcare, given their campaign promise of reform. Specifically, we must wait and see if they address the issue of long-term care and sufficiently address elders’ needs, not to mention those of the geriatric workforce, in whatever changes are proposed.

What’s most important, though, is that elders can afford medical expenses to remain independent.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Historic Inauguration brings Renewed Opportunities

We could not let this week conclude without acknowledging the historic Inauguration of President Barack Obama that took place in Washington, DC just three days ago. Our nation’s capital was overflowing with people from all over the world who came to witness the unforgettable moment.

Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is optimistic about the new opportunities the Administration will provide to women, their families, and elders. We are especially pleased with the President’s language throughout his campaign on economic security and the formulation of the White House Task Force for Working Families headed by Vice President Joseph Biden. The Task Force looks to expand education and training opportunities, improve work and family balance, restore labor standards, protect middle-class and working-family incomes, and protect retirement security. Each of these goals is in line with the WOW agenda and will increase the number of people who are economically secure.

We look forward to navigating through the tough economic climate and are hopeful that the people of this country will continue to prosper and become economically secure due to WOW’s work on the national, state, and local levels and the new Administration’s commitment to these issues.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Equal Pay for Women Today

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act by a vote of 256-163. The Ledbetter Act, originally blocked by the Senate in April, was quickly back on the table for last week’s vote after the Supreme Court ruled portions of it unconstitutional. The plaintiff, Lily Ledbetter, was an employee at Goodyear Tires in Alabama for 19 years, and was the only female supervisor. While working, she discovered she was being paid 20% less than her male employees.

Both acts focus on equality pay for women and more resources to strengthen the training of women in the workforce. Women currently make 78 cents per dollar earned by a man, which the Institute of Women’s Policy Research found would cost women $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime in lost wages .

The cost is much higher, however, for elder women currently retired (or close to); due to the wider pay disparity during their working years. Subsequently, this affects how much revenue elder women receive in Social Security payments, directly affecting their income and economic security. Pay inequity is a cumulative disadvantage women face throughout their working years which is then compounded upon retirement. There are few avenues available to women to overcome these financial realities.

Wider Opportunities for Women is optimistic about the future of both acts! WOW is also a signee to the letter sent to Congress .

Both acts are just one Senate vote away from reaching the President’s desk!

Please send your support by contacting your Senator today!