Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Champion for Children and Seniors

This week the country lost one of its most passionate and effective advocates for children, seniors, and families. Edward M. Kennedy might have lost his yearlong fight with brain cancer, but he will leave over five decades of victories for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Despite being born into privilege, he possessed a deeply ingrained sense of justice. Whether it was Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or the recently signed Serve America Act that bears his name, he sought to build a country that values all generations. It was a commitment that he never gave up on; just this past year Senator Kennedy introduced the innovative Keeping PACE Act to connect schools and communities together.

All generations, past, present, and future will benefit from his legislative legacy and owe him a debt of gratitude. Thank you Senator Kennedy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

End of Summer

What a summer we've had at GU! In June I had the joy of chairing the program for a regional grantmakers forum hosted by Grantmakers in Aging (GIA). Juan Williams, a good friend of GU, keynoted. He's becoming a wonderful champion of intergenerational practices and very generous with his time and insights. I'm pictured here at the event with Juan and Carol Farquhar, the head of GIA and a terrific colleague.

Many of you were able to join us in July for our 15th international conference. What a warm learning community we created and celebrated! The awards dinner was among our most moving and the honorees were an amazing group of younger and older extrodinary people.

As August winds down we are beginning to wind up for an exciting fall. Team policy is focused on Fostering Connections implementation and supporting intergenerational shared site legislation that's been introduced. Our shared sites team is about to name five new recipients of our MetLife Foundation Technical Assistance grants and Seniors4Kids is gearing up for grassroots advocacy supporting early education opportunities for children as they head back to school. Life is never dull at GU! We all hope you've had a wonderful summer and we look forward to connecting with you this fall. You know why...because we are stronger together! Enjoy! Donna

Monday, August 17, 2009

Generational Fiction in Times Op-Ed

Richard Dooling, a successful novelist, tries his hand at health policy in a provocative, though ultimately misguided, op-ed today’s New York Times.

It’s the job of any novelist to make his narrative stimulating and interesting, but the picture Dooling paints of greedy seniors selfishly milking away the earnings of grandchildren while they receive unnecessary medical treatment is farcical. Dooling creates a false choice between funding unnecessary and expensive surgeries for terminal patients and funding preventive care for children:
[…] shouldn’t we instantly cut some of the money spent on exorbitant intensive-care medicine for dying, elderly people and redirect it to pediatricians and obstetricians offering preventive care for children and mothers?

The source of the rising cost doesn’t come from seniors’ desire to rip off their grandchildren, as Dooling suggests, it comes from a poorly structured Medicare reimbursement system that pays for procedures and not health outcomes. Healthcare reform is not about denying care for seniors, it’s about changing the incentives of Medicare payments so that seniors get better outcomes. The Mayo Clinic is able to bill Medicare significantly less than other hospital systems, yet delivers excellent care. Medicare needs to reward healthcare systems like the Mayo Clinic and pay for progress, not process.

Dooling is correct that healthcare reform is also about extending healthcare coverage to the 8 million uninsured and underinsured children in America, but grandchildren don’t want to get healthcare if it means taking away their grandparents’ arthritis medication (especially since about 4.5 million children are being raised by grandparents). Our country has provided healthcare to all seniors; it’s now time to extend that benefit to all children. Threatening generational warfare may not be a novel technique in public policy debates; it is, however, tired and worn. We are not a country of isolated self-interested generations, but of connected and interdependent families and communities.

-Terence Kane
Note: The following is published from The Hill's Pundits Blog.