Latest from OWL
OWL Executive Director Attends Conference on Entrepreneurship for People Over 50
There was a time when it was assumed that people over 50 were looking forward to quiet retirements. As OWL’s Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar knows, those days are gone.
Posted by Mark on 12/03 at 04:37 AM
Brinegar Discusses Priorities with Senators
OWL-National Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar was one of a select group of leaders in aging advocacy invited to meet with Democratic Senators on Capitol Hill this week.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 11/09 at 12:04 PM
Considering “What’s Next: Wise Activism for the Future”
OWL members and friends gathered at the JFK Library to discuss the future and celebrate Mary Catherine Bates’ latest book.
Posted by Margaret Huyck on 10/24 at 04:22 PM
Puzzled about health-care costs? You’re not alone
By Jeanne Pinder
Founder, CEO of clearhealthcosts.com bringing transparency to the health-care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs.
Puzzled about health-care costs? You’re not alone.
While the latest news cycles on health care have been dominated by the Affordable Care Act and questions about whether the health-insurance exchanges will open as scheduled on Oct. 1, for a lot of people that topic is a sideshow.
This is true because whether you are insured or not, the underlying costs of health-care procedures continue to rise, creating perhaps the biggest problem we face as a nation.
In our work at clearhealthcosts.com our mission is telling people what things cost in health care, a traditional mystery. Shouldn’t you know that your MRI could cost as little as $450 or as much as $1,900, or even $6,000, for the same procedure in the same city? Shouldn’t you be able to know other health costs, too? People are calling us the kayak.com of health care and the Zillow of health care.
We’re using tools like shoe-leather reporting, crowdsourcing, curation and sourcing of pricing databases, and data visualization to help people with clear, actionable information about prices.
Not long ago, questions about prices were an abstraction. Most people had health insurance, often with a policy characterized by the $20 co-pay, where everything cost just that.
But now, the situation has changed dramatically. Insured people face higher deductibles, greater out-of-pocket costs, higher co-pays and more choices about insurance. As the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, comes into full effect, the demand for knowledge about prices will only increase – if people are choosing coverage of 60 percent, 70 percent or 80 percent coverage, they’ll want to know, 60 percent of what? Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/30 at 11:09 AM
The Broken System of Long-Term Care in America
Donna L. Wagner, PhD, OWL Policy Chair and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
College of Health and Social Services, New Mexico State University
If you’re helping an older parent or spouse meet long-term care needs, join the crowd. One out of five workers in the United States spends an average of 20 hours a week caring for elder family members. These unpaid services have an estimated value of $230 billion a year—$20 billion more than the $210 billion that Medicaid pays each year for long-term care.
Providing these unpaid services imposes high indirect costs on employers, in the form of reduced productivity, absenteeism, a workforce whose own health is compromised by neglect and stress, and higher turnover, as workers leave their jobs to devote themselves to caregiving. All told, these problems cost U.S. employers $33.6 billion a year. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/24 at 02:13 PM
When D.C. Gets it Right: a Victory for American Families
By Donna Wagner, Ph.D., OWL Public Policy Chair & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at
New Mexico State University
Almost two million direct care workers who have been disenfranchised from the labor market by being categorized as “companion” workers and thus exempt from the Department of Labor regulations that protect the majority of American worker have won a victory.
Starting in January, 2015, these workers will now be afforded the protections of other American workers including minimum wage and overtime protections. These workers are the nation’s long term care system; providing ongoing care and assistance to millions of disabled and frail adults. Half of these workers are minorities and 90 percent are women.
The rule issued by the Department of Labor yesterday fulfilled a promise made by President Obama two years ago that American workers should be entitled to a fair day’s pay for their work. Those workers who are employed directly by the household of the person needing assistance and not providing medical services remain exempt from the regulations. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/18 at 02:31 PM
The Different Faces of Caregiving
By Robin Strongin, OWL National Board member (this post originally appeared at Disruptive Women in Healthcare.)
September 2013 marks not just one, but two important milestones. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I would say it was Beshert.Disruptive Women turns five this month while my dad turns 80.
The prototypical New Yorker through and through, some of my fondest memories of my dad include him bringing me and my picket sign to Gracie Mansion in New York City during the big teachers’ strike in the 1960s when I was five; him rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers until they took their extended road trip to the West Coast and then laboring as a NY Mets fan (there was the Carvel ice cream cake in 1969, the year the Mets won the World Series); and his tireless devotion to his career of teaching kids and running schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
In addition to the standard aches and pains of a body that has weathered eight decades of life adventures, my father has struggled with Crohn’s disease most of his life and remained strong in the face of multiple other chronic diseases, a broken hip and a great deal of pain. For someone accustomed to mobility and self-sufficiency, his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease has caused its share of humbling and frustrating situations. But he is not alone, as all of us – his children, my mother and their friends – have stood hand in hand experiencing these life changes with humility and frustrations of our own. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/11 at 01:08 PM
Women Like Me
By Susan Scanlan
I joined the feminist movement when I was young and ardent. Forty-one years later, I’m still ardent. And planning to model my Golden Years on Tish Sommers, who taught us to rage about a lot of things, including “the dying of the light.”
As a 20-something, I watched 60-ish Tish transform a NOW task force to the Displaced Homemaker’s Network to the Older Women’s League, bringing pride and recognition to a generation of discounted mothers and wives. Because of her example, growing a movement or galvanizing the grassroots seems a perfectly suitable next career for this aging Baby Boomer.
Did you know Tish was a dancer? Her life-long activism was sparked during a performing tour of Nazi Germany. I’m thinking of a return to tap dancing to see where a heel-toe-shuffle might take me in retirement.
If someone had told me 40 years ago—or even 20 years ago—that American women would still be fighting for fair pay and affirmative action and reproductive rights, I would have accused them of smoking the drapes. So I can’t abandon this agenda in my golden years. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/04 at 10:34 AM
50 years later…who knew?
By Bobbie Brinegar, Executive Director, OWL National
50 years ago…half a century… five decades… and as so many of the speakers at the March on Washington reminded us this past weekend, the dream of equality and justice in our country is still far from realized.
Who knew it could take so long for that “bright day of justice” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned 50 years ago to emerge? We had less experience then. Some of us were there. Some of us were there in spirit. Some of us were just little children. Some of us weren’t even around yet. Later, as we grew to know that world of which our leaders spoke, and as we ourselves began to watch so many face those same barriers of hatred, intolerance and bigotry, we realized that while our motivation was strong and our goals clear, we didn’t really know how long the struggle would go on. After all, Dr. King had told us that very day, that “…it would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/26 at 02:45 PM
By Ann Lewis, Former Director of Communications for President Bill Clinton; Co-Chair, President’s Commission for Celebration of Women in American History
As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, 2013, we think of powerful images, like the massive parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC in 1913, and two years later on Fifth Avenue in New York, ensuring the issue of women’s suffrage got national attention; suffragists with banners, outside the White House gates, reminding President Wilson that while America was fighting a war for democracy in Europe, American women were denied democracy at home.
Other images deserve attention as well – women in rural communities who traveled miles to hear Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton speak, and then went back and told their neighbors what they’d heard. Women with no legal right to money of their own, who saved pennies and nickels to give to suffrage. Women who were told that politics was so corrupt they couldn’t win – but went on organizing precincts, lobbying , and working the polls. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/26 at 12:13 PM
Where the lines blur: thoughts on aging, disability and equality
By Janna Starr, OWL National Board Member
Somewhere along the line in my career of working around and with many people with many different kinds of disabilities, we began to say candidly, “It’s always open enrollment for disability” – meaning of course, that as far as any of us knows, we could encounter something in life – an accident, an illness or an event of some kind – that could put us among the ranks of those with disabilities at any time. And we frequently followed the “open enrollment” statement with something like “… and if we are fortunate enough to be around so long, we will likely all experience some level of disability at some time in our lives,” especially as we grow older. At that point, thoughts switch from “Gee, I hope I don’t ever get a disability” to “Gee….really? ….all of us?” Aging, it seems,is where the lines blur. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/23 at 09:22 AM
New OWL Ready to Take Action!
Thanks to all of you who participated in the vote on OWL’s by-laws revisions. We are happy to report that it was the largest return of votes OWL has had for quite a while! Moreover, the revised by-laws were approved by a large margin, 88 percent.
Now a streamlined OWL is moving forward to fight even more effectively for greater economic security, better access to affordable health care and an enhanced quality of life for the nation’s 74 million women over 40.
And even though it’s August, traditionally the slowest time in D.C., we’re too excited to wait for fall to kick-off our new membership drive, “Two Like You.” Please take a few minutes today to invite two friends to join the OWL community. With your support, we will make sure the voice of midlife and older women is heard loud and clear in the halls of power!
Margaret Huyck, National OWL Board President
Joan Bernstein, Chair of the Bylaws Revision Task Force
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/19 at 11:54 AM
Honoring 78 Years of Bringing Dignity and Well-Being to Millions
Often thought of as a program for the elderly, Social Security is that and much more. It is the first line of defense of the American family, including babies and children, when death, disablement or retirement curtail income. It is the mainstay of the majority of families receiving benefits. It stands almost alone among retirement programs in adjusting benefits yearly to preserve benefit buying power. That also makes it a boon to millions of American businesses and their employees. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/14 at 10:37 AM
Healthcare and the IRS: Time to Fix the Problem, Not Fight About it
On Friday, August 2, shortly before leaving for a five week recess, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232 to 135 to deny the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) an enforcement role in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.”
It was the 40th vote by the Republican-dominated House to prevent, postpone, or limit the implementation of the ACA. Observers note that, like its predecessors, the bill stands little chance of passage in the Senate. Many have dismissed it as another act of partisan political theatre. But the scope and nature of the role which the IRS will play in the implementation of the ACA has been contentious and debated since the outset. And lately there have been signs that the IRS may not be able meet its increased responsibilities under the ACA in a full or timely manner.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 08/07 at 01:21 PM
OWL was founded more than 30 years ago because no distinctions were being made between how policies impact women compared to men. Nor was enough attention being paid to how to solve the problems stemming from the combination many women were facing of a lifetime of underemployment, low wages and time out of the workforce to serve as unpaid caregivers.
And despite the progress that has been made, policy makers today still need to be reminded that:
*The wage disparity between women and men – 77 cents to the dollar – increases as women age
*Women hold only 24% of STEM jobs, one of the best-paying and fastest growing employment sectors
*Women are far more likely than men to spend time out of the paid workforce to care for family
*Underemployment is much higher among older women than men. The rate for men between 55-61 is 7.2%; for women in the same age group the rate is 20.5%
*The media income for women over 65 is $15,000 a year
Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/04 at 01:06 PM
Missing: 22 Million Women
National policies have an inordinate impact on the quality of life for women: they are much more likely than their male counterparts to be underemployed and to take time out of the workforce to serve as unpaid caregivers. They live longer, dealing with more chronic illnesses, while making less money. They sit squarely at the intersection of the personal and the political. The actions – or in the case of the current U.S. Congress, inaction—by elected officials can be life choices to women.
Yet while women register and vote in higher percentages than men, 22 million women who were eligible to vote sat out the November 2010 election.
Getting more women to the polls in 2014 – and beyond—has the potential to transform our political environment.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/04 at 12:11 PM
Happy 48th Birthday to Medicare!
By OWL Board Member Janna Starr
It’s July 30, 2013. You are 48 years old, and if YOU TWO don’t have a Happy Birthday, who will? We will all suspect something is wrong. Maybe you haven’t been getting enough sleep, or maybe you are not eating right. The Congress isn’t treating you badly, is it?
Maybe, too, you are both very proud of your lives, as you work your way through middle age; or maybe you are a little disappointed in your accomplishments.
Maybe you could have done more, and aren’t thinking right now about all of your millions of friends and supporters, let alone the nearly 1.5 million people who consider Medicaid and Medicare nothing less than lifelines to participation in the game of life, no matter how many years go by. Read more.
Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 07/30 at 11:39 AM
Information for OWL Members on Bylaws Vote
Current OWL members are receiving or have received a ballot to vote on revised national OWL bylaws that were recommended by the Board of Directors at the October, 2012 meeting. For comparison purposes, go here to read the current bylaws, adopted in 2006.
Posted by Margaret Huyck on 07/24 at 11:13 AM
Reflections from OWL President Margaret Huyck
Independence Day conjures up many positive images. The celebration of individuals, and countries, that are self-reliant, and even strong enough to care
for the less fortunate. No one’s master, and no one’s slave. Most of us think of ourselves this way-independent. One of our greatest fears about aging is the loss of independence, equating it with dependence. Many are so afraid of dependency that we cannot admit we are growing old, and thus do not prepare for the time when we will need help. Our idealization of independence leads us to
ignore the reality of our interdependence.
Posted by Margaret Huyck on 07/03 at 11:01 AM
OWL Treasurer Letter Published in New York Times
This letter was published Sunday, March 31st
To the editor:
Let’s get one thing straight: Social Security is insurance. The overwhelming majority of working Americans pay for it. It is a self-financed program and does not increase the deficit, so don’t cut its benefits for deficit reduction.
Posted by Pat Lewis on 04/03 at 12:17 PM