Serving Low-Income Seniors: Lessons and the Impact of COVID-19

November 6, 2020

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on both low-income communities and seniors in the U.S. As the acute effects of COVID-19 are continuously felt, and we enter a challenging winter season for health, it is important to consider how best to serve the nation’s most vulnerable populations. As many as 7.2 million adults aged 65 or older live in poverty as measured using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), making accessing and paying for health care and services more difficult. Furthermore, roughly half of individuals turning 65 require long-term services and supports (LTSS), yet coverage gaps exist in paying for this type of care. The challenges of coordinating, delivering, and paying for this population’s care and the need for coordinated actions to improve quality of life and health outcomes will persist long after election week.

This briefing overviewed the complex ecosystem of federal, state, and private programs that coexist to integrate medical, LTSS, and social services for low-income seniors. Panelists also highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic response has only made these efforts more complicated and present potential policy solutions, especially state-federal and public-private partnerships, to best serve this complex population.


  • Katherine Hayes, J.D., Director of Health Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Lynda Flowers, J.D., MSN, R.N., Senior Strategy Policy Advisor, Public Policy Institute, AARP
  • Elizabeth Wood, MPAP, Health Researcher, Mathematica
  • Sarah J. Dash, MPH, President and CEO, Alliance for Health Policy (moderator)

Presentation: Presentation

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Lynda Flowers
Senior Strategy Policy Advisor, Public Policy Institute 

Katherine Hayes
Bipartisan Policy Center
Director of Health Policy

Elizabeth Wood
Mathematica, Health Researcher

Experts and Analysts

Cindy Mann
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Vincent Mor
Brown University School of Public Health
Florence Pirce Grant Professor of Community Health

Michelle Herman Soper
Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.
Director, Integrated Care


Nina Ashford
Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Deputy Director of Program Alignment

Marc Steinberg
Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Technical Director


Melanie Bella
Cityblock Health
Chief of New Business and Policy

Leslie Fried
National Council on Aging, Senior Director
Center for Benefit Access

Sachin Jain
SCAN Health Plan
President and CEO

Anne Montgomery
Altarum, Deputy Director
Program to Improve Eldercare