Advances in medicine and technology are providing for longer and healthier lives today. American families have increasingly been asked to take responsibility for their own health and financial outcomes: how long to work, how much to save, when to claim Social Security and pension benefits, which health plans to choose, and how to allocate and manage their assets. Navigating these complex choices may be particularly difficult for minority elderly, leading to suboptimal outcomes. Indeed, health indicators have demonstrated little improvement in health disparities between different racial and ethnic populations over the past decade, according to analyses in Healthy People 2010. Evidence also suggests that minority households tend to be excluded from or participate only on the margins of the financial mainstream. To this end we propose to establish a RCMAR at USC that will develop an infrastructure to achieve the following Specific Aims: 1. Provide leadership, organizational, communication and evaluation systems to achieve the overarching goal of supporting high-quality and enduring research careers in the health and economic challenges of minority elderly;2. Support pilot study solicitation and selection process to ensure the selection of scientifically rigorous and fundable pilot projects and enhancement of the diversity of researchers;3. Support pilot-funded investigators through achievement of pilot studies goals and award of an independent grant by multidisciplinary mentoring and training in the methods and tools of economics, computer science, medicine, and social work;4. Analyze large longitudinal survey data sets and medical claims data on the health, medical care and expenditures, economic status, and financial decisions of diverse elderly populations in order to generate interventions that will address health and economic disparities;5. Track and evaluate the successes of pilot investigators and data analysis and improve the infrastructure support in accordance with evaluation findings. This proposed RCMAR is a collaboration between USC and RAND that utilizes the resources of USC's Roybal Center on Health Policy Simulation, Roybal Institute on Aging, Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and RAND's Roybal Center for Financial Decision making.
Many of the health and economics issues associated with the aging process are of such magnitude and complexity that they cannot be approached from the vantage point of any single discipline alone. With the National Institute on Aging's Priority Area for RCMAR Centers comes a pressing need to build infrastructure that will bring a multidisciplinary approach to the health and economic challenges of minority elderly and have a long-lasting effect on research in this area.