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Debra Whitman


Debra Whitman is an authority on aging issues with extensive experience in policymaking, research and the political process. As AARP’s executive vice president for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs, she leads policy development in retirement security, health care, consumer protections and other issues.

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Debra Whitman'sPosts

Make Your Voice Heard on AARP Policy Positions

Posted on 07/17/2014 by |Public Policy | Comments

Public Policy InstituteEvery day, thousands of AARP staff and volunteers bring AARP public policies to life when they fight on behalf of older Americans and their families in all state capitals and Washington, D.C. Yet those vital efforts would not be possible without input from people just like you. AARP policies are set by our all-volunteer Board of Directors, but only after an annual process that begins with listening to the insights and experience of individuals who are 50-plus. As a first …

Not Everyone Is Living Longer

Posted on 06/1/2014 by |Public Policy | Comments

Public Policy InstituteWhen it is unveiled in the coming weeks, the Social Security Trustees report will no doubt prompt the program’s critics to call for change, as it does each year. And one of their suggestions will likely be to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare benefits. It sounds so reasonable. Isn’t everybody living longer? Unfortunately, the answer is no. >> Sign up for the AARP Advocacy Newsletter The truth is that gains in life expectancy are not …

Expensive New Hepatitis C Drug Raises Alarms

Posted on 05/28/2014 by |Public Policy | Comments

Public Policy InstituteThis piece originally ran in the Huffington Post and was written by Leigh Purvis and Debra B. Whitman. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It currently affects more than 3 million Americans, many of whom do not know that they are infected. Left untreated, it can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. Until recently, hepatitis C treatments only cured about half of patients and often had undesirable …

Let’s Give Caregivers the Support They Deserve

Posted on 03/27/2014 by |Public Policy | Comments

CaregivingYou get up, get dressed, cook breakfast, make bag lunches for the kids, drop the kids off at school, rush to work, prepare for a big meeting, call to check in on your mom during lunch, go to your meeting, schedule your mom’s next doctor’s appointment, race to the pharmacy after work, drop off mom’s meds on your way home, cook dinner, help the kids with their homework, check in on mom again, and – finally – go to bed. …

Talents Can Transform Your Life and the World

Posted on 12/17/2013 by |Public Policy | Comments

Public Policy InstituteIn the movie A Bronx Tale, Robert De Niro plays a father who declares that wasted talent is “the saddest thing in life.” Those words ring true for me on a lot of levels. As an economist I view older Americans as an undervalued asset, too often denied the chance to use talents honed over a lifetime. As a policy wonk and advocate, I look for strategies that can help people live rewarding lives and that remove obstacles in their …

There is Nothing ‘Fuzzy’ About Social Security Benefits’ Positive Impact on the Economy

Posted on 10/22/2013 by |Public Policy | Comments

Your LifeThe idea that Social Security benefit payments help support local and state economies and the national economy is obvious to all 57 million beneficiaries who spend their dollars at stores and to the merchants who sell them goods and services. But it is not obvious to many in Washington. In a town focused only on what Social Security payments mean for the federal budget, a new report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute highlights, in actual dollars and jobs, what Social …