The Obama Administration has announced its preliminary plans for the next White House Conference on Aging, which would be held next year.

It would be the first such conference in a decade and could be quite valuable, given the rapid aging of the U.S. population and vast changes in the medical and long-term care environment since the last session. 2015 also has powerful symbolic meaning since it will be the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act.

But the conference risks being a bust—even more disappointing than the 2005 version, which accomplished little of substance.

It would be great if the White House used the conference for a candid conversation about updating Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act to better reflect the realities of 2015. But I suspect the president and his top aides see an open discussion of those three hallmark programs as far too dangerous.

Instead, when Cecilia Muñoz, director of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, met with representatives of advocacy groups in late July to discuss a proposed agenda, she focused on the benefits to seniors of the Affordable Care Act and laid out four broad items for the conference: retirement security, long-term services and supports, healthy aging, and elder abuse.

The ACA is a landmine for a conference such as this. The more it is seen as a rally to support Obama’s signature–and controversial– health care law, the less likely it is that Republicans will participate. And without bipartisan support, the conference is doomed. It will be written off as a partisan political exercise, much as a recent White House conference on working families. Remember that? Don’t worry, nobody else does either.

As for the other topics, each is important. The problem is, they more easily lend themselves to boilerplate rhetoric than serious solutions. And if they are all on the agenda, the very breadth of these subjects means none of them will get the full attention it deserves. A conference about everything is about nothing.

The upcoming event must operate under other constraints, not of its own making. Its budget will be modest at best. Obama has asked for $3 million, one-third the cost of the 2005 conference, and it is unlikely Congress will give him that much.

Given financial limitations, it is likely the White House will ditch the idea of a big program at a single site (the ’05 conference was held at a Washington, D.C. hotel). Instead, much of it will be held in smaller regional meetings or online—making any effort at consensus-building much more complicated.

The Administration has named Nora Super as executive director of conference. Nora is a former lobbyist at AARP and the Kaiser Permanente HMO, and a former senior public relations aide at the Department of Health and Human Services. She knows the issues and many of the players, but given a limited budget and limited influence at the White House, it remains to be seen whether she can get the president to pay attention to issues that have never been at the top of his agenda.

Whether you are as pessimistic as I am, or more optimistic, you’ll be able to follow the project at once the site is launched.