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Policies regarding Vulnerable Populations 

Topic: Policies regarding Vulnerable Populations

This module/week, we have learned about several vulnerable populations. Policy is always driven by competing values and controversy abounds. For each of the following groups, discuss a policy topic that has been discussed in the module/week or that you have done some basic research on (see what is in the news) and give an example of the two sides of the issues and how values drive the policy process.  Do use an outside source for EACH of the 3 populations discussed.

Aging population
LGBT community
People of color

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 Policies regarding Vulnerable Populations 

Every government must rely on policies to protect and uphold the needs of its most vulnerable populations. However, despite the role of policies in improving the lives of the vulnerable, competing policies and values always arise. Over the last few years, the US has embraced or proposed several policies to protect the aging population, the LGBT community, and people of color.

Aging Population

According to HAPF (2021), the US will see an increase in the aging population by 20% or 71 million Americans. These individuals remain at a higher risk for complex health conditions and disability than any other population, making them the heaviest users of healthcare services (HAPF, 2021). Following this trend, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have received a lot of attention from different stakeholders and policymakers. According to Super (2020), lawmakers have had a challenge and a controversy when dealing with the aging population as they choose whether to reduce health benefits, increase taxes, or shift responsibility to the private sector. Recently, there was the introduction of changes that shifted the ACA from a reimbursement system that relies on the volume of services to one that depends on the value of care (Super, 2020). In 2015, President Obama introduced the voluntary, value-based insurance design (VBID) for insurers that provide Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare benefits through private-sector health insurers), allowing older patients living with chronic conditions to receive a plethora of incentives and services of high clinical value (Super, 2020). Also, based on the CHRONIC Care Act, Medicare Advantage plans to ensure that the aging population receives non-medical services such as home-delivered meals to improve care outcomes.

LGBT Community

Policies towards accepting the LGBT community within American institutions have faced massive criticism for decades. In 1994, the US embraced the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy as a Federal policy on military service by the LGBT community (Human Rights Campaign, 2020). The policy was discriminatory as it prevented the LGBT community from being open about their sexual orientation without facing a discharge threat.  Policymakers that formulated the DADT argued from a discriminatory standpoint that the presence of LGBT individuals in the army would negatively affect the ability of ‘straight’ men and women from performing their duties diligently. In over seventeen years, there was a massive discharge of brave servicemen for being part of the LGBT community. On September 20, 2011, DADT received a complete overhaul through a repeal that saw previously discharged members of the LGBT community reinstated and promised future recruits that they would no longer face discrimination for their sexual orientation (Kirchick, 2019). In 2017, however, Donald Trump maintained that transgender individuals would not serve in the military. LGBT-oriented organizations have taken up the fight to overturn the directive to ensure that all people regardless of their sexual orientation can serve the nation.

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People of Color

The racial wealth gap remains a controversial policy topic in the US. Recently, the conversation led to an online movement dubbed the ADOS or the “American Descendants of Slavery”, which supports reparations and economic justice for black descendants of slaves and not the entire African-Americans community. Critics of the movement argued that it spreads hateful and xenophobic rhetoric while supporting online harassment (Lynn, 2020). Nonetheless, the movement gained massive support from policymakers and aspiring politicians. The movement did not yield much on pushing a legal policy to protect the interests of people of color, but it initiated a conversation on how Americans can try to narrow the racial wealth gap within the American political conversation.




HAPF. (2021). What Do We Mean by Health and Aging Policy?

Human Rights Campaign. (2020). Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". HRC.

Kirchick, J. (2019, July 2). The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over. The Atlantic.

Lynn, S. (2020, February). Controversial group ADOS divides black Americans in fight for economic equality. ABC News.

Super, N. (2020). Three trends shaping the politics of aging in America. Innovation in Aging, 4(Suppl 1), 680.

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