Policy Forum #90


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December 2021 Policy Forum #90

EBRI 2021 Winter Policy Forum 
December 6, 7, and 9, 2021

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Hosted by:

Lori Lucas, President and CEO, Employee Benefit Research Institute
Liz Varley, Vice President - Federal Government Affairs, Ameriprise Financial, and Vice Chair of the EBRI Public Policy Advisory Council


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December 6 – 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Keynote: Department of Labor Update With Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend shared her unique insights on the latest issues at the Department of Labor. She highlighted DOL initiatives that impact Americans’ retirement security. As a former grassroots advocate for universal retirement programs, a founder of Georgetown University’s Center Retirement Initiatives, and former chair of the Maryland Governor’s Retirement Security Task Force that helped spearhead efforts to enact a state-run retirement plan for workers not covered by a retirement plan at work (not to mention the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland), she delivered thoughtful remarks, spurring compelling questions and discussions.


2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
A Path to a More Equitable Solution: Solving the Retirement Coverage Gap

In this session, experts explored how state-sponsored IRAs, PEPs, and the proposed Automatic Contribution Plan Arrangement (ACPA) can work independently and together to address the coverage gap among workers for small businesses, minorities, and women. We also discussed the possible impact on the existing defined contribution system and its participants.


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December 7 — 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Spending in Retirement: The Full Picture

Spending in retirement is top of mind to many employers, providers, and policymakers. In this session, we explored critical areas of focus, including:

  • Do retirees actually underspend in retirement?
  • How do annuities factor into retirement?
  • What is the role of debt in retirement?
  • What drives retirement satisfaction?


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December 9 — 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Health Care Reform Redux: How Might Legislative and Regulatory Action Drive Change?

As the House of Representatives and the Senate grapple with a Reconciliation Bill, several items may be included that will affect employment-based health benefits.  These include but are not limited to drug pricing reform, ACA tax credit expansion, fixing the "family glitch," Medicaid expansion, and/or Medicare expansions. This Policy Forum panel discussed the implications of legislative and regulatory action on employment-based health benefits.  The point of view of employers, labor, and health plans were examined.


  • Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO, The ERISA Industry Committee

  • Kathy Bakich, Senior Vice President, Health Compliance Practice Leader, Segal

  • Kris Haltmeyer, Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield

  • Paul Fronstin, Director of the Health Research and Education Program, EBRI