2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. On July 13, President Obama will host the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. It will be an opportunity to recognize the importance of these landmark programs, while looking ahead to address the issues that will improve the quality of life for older Americans for the next decade.
The Conference will convene senior Administration officials, community leaders, caregivers, older adults, families, advocates, and experts from a wide range of health and social service disciplines at the White House. Many more will tune in online to join the national dialogue, as well as focus on the important issues that often require local solutions.
Compared to previous generations, the possibility of living 20 to 30 years beyond traditional retirement age has created both opportunities and challenges. The White House Conference on Aging represents an important opportunity for communities and decision makers from both the public and private sectors to share best practices, identify future goals, and strengthen partnerships – which will all serve to better assist our aging population as their needs, lifestyles, and ambitions evolve over time.
In anticipation of the Conference, we are already hearing about dozens of community watch parties being organized in private homes, community centers, and libraries in every state – and that list continues to grow. This new local dimension to the Conference, with local watch parties engaging countless more Americans in the conversation, will make this the largest and most community-focused event on aging the White House has ever hosted.
The President would like to encourage all organizations hosting events – whether public or private – to register their Watch Parties. By registering, hosts will receive the latest information about the Conference, and a rundown of the best ways to submit questions, comments, and stories in real time. Public watch parties will be posted on the Conference website once confirmed.
This is a critical time for this conversation as thousands of Americans turn 65 each day, reshaping the way we think and talk about aging in America. We need to make sure our communities are preparing for an aging society in positive ways and viewing our changing demographics as an opportunity rather than a burden. Older Americans, like all of us, want to be defined by their abilities, not their disabilities.
That’s why the President is committed to protecting and strengthening Social Security – and securing the basic compact that hard work should be rewarded with dignity at retirement – or in the case of disability or early death. He has called on Congress to work across the aisle to preserve Social Security as a reliable source of income for American seniors and a robust source of benefits to survivors and workers who develop disabilities. He believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced and he will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations. The President also stands firmly opposed to the privatization of social security, and rejects the notion that the future of hard-working Americans should be left to the fluctuations of financial markets.
The President also continues to fight to protect Medicare, and through the Affordable Care Act, we have successfully lowered prescription drug costs, prohibited insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and enabled older adults to receive recommended preventive health care at no out-of-pocket costs.
A great deal of progress has been made – but of course, our work is far from over. As the daughter of a vibrant and independent 86-year-old mother – who is still working by the way, and shows no signs of stopping! – I know we can and must adjust our policies to better allow all seniors to live longer, healthier lives. The White House Conference on Aging provides an important opportunity for us to engage older adults, their families, and all stakeholders to ensure we are effectively supporting and empowering all Americans as they age.
We owe our seniors our tireless advocacy and enduring respect. We hope to see as many Americans as possible tune in on July 13 to join the President and a diverse group of leaders committed to engaging in a historic conversation. I urge you to organize and register a Watch Party, and help lead this vital conversation in your community.
Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President
for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
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