McCormack Speaks

February 22, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

Gerontology Professor Marc Cohen Presents New “Policy Roadmap” for Future of LTSS Finance

This post originally appeared on the Gerontology Institute blog, written by Steven Syre.

What would a better way to finance long-term services and supports (LTSS) for older Americans really look like? Even more importantly: How would it perform?

Marc Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, and two colleagues took up that challenge and developed a new “policy roadmap” combining public catastrophic insurance with gap-filling private LTSS insurance focused on middle-income people.

“The fundamental LTSS financing problem is the absence of an effective insurance mechanism to protect people against the cost of extensive LTSS they may require over the course of their lives,” said Cohen, also a professor at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

Cohen and co-authors Judith Feder, a professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and a fellow at the Urban Institute, and Melissa Favreault, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said their plan would enhance benefits for people with long-duration impairments, reduce unmet LTSS needs and mitigate burdens facing family caregivers.

The authors said their plan would enhance LTSS spending by 14 percent, reduce out-of-pocket spending by 15 percent and cut Medicaid spending by 23 percent, compared to projected spending under current law.

The public-insurance element of the plan would be financed with a 1 percent Medicare tax surcharge paid by taxpayers over the age of 40.

The authors described their proposal as providing an “analytical foundation for demonstrating how a shift from an LTSS system dependent on impoverishment and last-resort public financing to a financially sound insurance system that can provide meaningful protection for people with catastrophic LTSS needs.”

Cohen and Feder presented their plan at a Jan. 31 discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. They were joined on a panel by Gretchen E. Alkema, vice president of policy and communication at The SCAN foundation; Sheila Burke, a BPC fellow and strategic advisor at Baker Donelson; Cindy Mann, the former director of the Center for Medicaid and Anne Tumlinson, the founder of Daughterhood.

Under the plan, eligibility for public catastrophic coverage would be subject to waiting periods at age 65 ranging from one to four years, based on income. Higher earners would be subject to longer waiting periods.

Private insurance would offer a way to cover those up-front gap years. Based on the average cost of private policies on the individual market, the authors estimate gap-filling coverage would amount to 2-4 percent of income for all groups, except the lowest 20 percent of earners. Such costs are in the range of what people appear to be willing to spend for policies, according to the authors.

Individuals assessed with two or more limitations in activities of daily living or severe cognitive impairment expected to last longer than 90 days would qualify for public benefits once they satisfy the waiting period.

The model’s level of benefit payments is linked to direct service costs, excluding room and board. It would provide $110 per day, which was the average expense for five hours of service by home health aide in 2016 (though the benefit could be spent on nursing home care as well).

The authors said the 1 percent Medicare surcharge helping to finance the program would cost a worker earning the 2016 average covered wage of $48,642 about $41 per month, or when split evenly between employees and employers, about $21 in direct monthly costs to employees. They suggested the surcharge could be presented as a premium and taxpayers could be offered the opportunity to opt out of the plan.

Cohen and his co-authors acknowledged that the search for better ways to finance long-term services and supports is not high on America’s current political agenda. But they believe work on the issue now can pay dividends in the future.

“Research undertaken now on the design and challenges of specific proposals for LTSS financing reform will provide the necessary intellectual infrastructure and foundation for effective action when policymakers are inevitably forced to address the issue in the years ahead,” they wrote.

February 14, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

40 Years of Studying Psychosocial Development: Insights from Sequential Research on Midlife and Beyond

Susan Krauss Whitbourne kicked off the University of Massachusetts Boston Department of Gerontology spring speaker’s series on January  29 with a presentation on the psychosocial development of subjects over a span of four decades.

Whitbourne is an adjunct professor of gerontology at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School and a professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences at UMass Amherst. This video of her presentation, “40 Years of Studying Psychosocial Development: Insights from Sequential Research on Midlife and Beyond,” is the first in an anticipated series of video blog posts featuring gerontology presentations at UMass Boston.


This post originally appeared on the Gerontology Institute blog.

February 13, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

Wealth, Power, and the Public Interest: Building Equity Culture and Civic Stewardship

by Padraig O’Malley, John Joseph Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation

This is a must read issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy.

I have worked with Marcy Murninghan since the 1980’s. The scope and breath of Murninghan’s work can be gauged from the range of eminent institutions and luminaries that commissioned reports and in-depth analysis on social issues or supported her or were participants in her inquiry into emerging trends in several public policy areas. One constant permeates and brings convergence, outlining the framework of a moral economy to fulfill, she writes, America’s covenant and democracy’s promise, more fragile now in the rise of the alt-right, nationalisms, polarization, and increasing inequality.

Quoting Murninghan, “America faces a reckoning, a crucible of what Reinhold Niebuhr observed more than eighty years ago. Our democratic principles and traditions are imperiled by the power of financial oligarchs and unfettered money flows, which have contributed to massive inequality that, in turn, has given rise to political unrest and a sense of cultural unmooring. The articles presented here are both descriptive and normative, setting forth a complex social problem with seemingly bottomless proportions and then offering a design or set of remedial actions to alleviate them. Drawing on my professional experience going back to the mid-1970s, I wrote these pieces to generate new knowledge, new capabilities, and new vistas that open opportunities for growth and well-being—all the while knowing that no problems ever can be solved permanently and that sometimes solutions in one era become new problems in another.

Woven throughout are issues related to racism, gender disparities, wealth and income gaps, criminal justice reform, the double-edged sword of digital technologies, and how best to create a culture of equity and civic stewardship that moves us forward.”

February 10, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

Four Global Governance & Human Security Doctoral Students Chosen for Transdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Program

student working on laptop computerSelected from a pool of highly competitive candidates, the Office of Graduate Studies has chosen 12 PhD students representing 7 graduate programs across the university to participate in the 2018 UMass Boston Transdisciplinary Dissertation Proposal Development Program. Among them include 4 students from the PhD Program in Global Governance and Human Security at the McCormack Graduate School – the largest number from any one doctoral program.With funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this proposal development program is a collaboration between the Social Science Research Council and the University of Massachusetts Boston designed to expose doctoral candidates to the possibilities of transdisciplinary research, to develop proposals that are competitive for external funding, and to increase the support networks and retention of students at this critical stage in their careers.These doctoral students will participate in a dissertation seminar this spring led by Professor of Anthropology Rosalyn Negrón to help them prepare to defend their dissertation proposals in the next academic year. Students will develop cogent and fundable research proposals that draw on inter- or transdisciplinary theories, methods, or approaches. In addition to the dissertation seminar, the Office of Graduate Studies will also offer a summer bootcamp on transdisciplinary methods.

Students in this cohort will also earn a small stipend in summer research funds to support their dissertation proposal development.

McCormack Graduate School awardees include:

Anna Dubrova

Dissertation topic: Global governance of chemicals and waste: Assessing the effectiveness of global environmental conventions
Faculty Advisor: Maria Ivanova

Kundan Mishra

Dissertation topic: Distress, determinants, and decisions: A case study of decision making in seasonal migrant households
Faculty Advisor: Stacy VanDeveer

Jean-Pierre Murray
Dissertation topic: The migration security nexus: Exploring the securitization of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic
Faculty Advisor: Margaret Karns

David Sulewski
Dissertation topic: Peacebuilding and nonviolent resistance in post-conflict Colombia: A case study of Colombia’s Pacific coast
Faculty Advisor: Jeffrey Pugh

We congratulate these burgeoning scholars.

January 29, 2018
by McCormack Speaks

McCormack PhD Candidate Earns Post-Doc Fellowship from International Studies Association

Jaime HagenThe International Studies Association (ISA) has awarded its James Rosneau Post-doctoral Fellowship to Global Governance and Human Security PhD candidate Jaime J. Hagen to further her research in the field of gender and security. This fellowship begins next year and supports the research of newly minted scholars in the social sciences.

Graduate Program Director Stacy VanDeveer praises Hagen’s accomplishment. “This esteemed award recognizes Jaime’s outstanding scholarship in feminist security studies. Her work focuses on an important global policy challenge and seeks creative solutions that matter to the LGBTQ community.”

Prior to joining the McCormack Graduate School to pursue her doctoral studies, Hagen completed an MA in political science at Brooklyn College. Working as a consultant for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, she conducted research for the 2012 Women, Peace and Security policy briefs. She also spent time working at several non-government organizations.

Hagen has published scholarly and freelance articles on gender, feminist security studies, and LGBTQ politics. She also contributed a chapter on LGBTQ sexuality and social media for the book, Gender, Sex and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century.

She is a member of the executive committee of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies interest group of the International Studies Association. At the ISA-NE conference in November, she presented her research on “What is Gender and Who are Women? Queer Questions for the Women, Peace and Security Architecture,” related to her dissertation work on gender in post-conflict and transnational LGBTQ advocacy networks.

News of Hagen’s award was shared on the front page of the January ISA newsletter. Upon completion of her dissertation, she will work ¾ time on her own research while devoting the remainder to ISA projects. The fellowship carries a $50,000 annual stipend.

Graduate Program Director Stacey VanDeveer praises Hagen’s accomplishment. “This esteemed award recognizes Jaime’s outstanding scholarship in feminist security studies. Her work focuses on an important global policy challenge and seeks creative solutions that matter to the LGBTQ community.”



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