The 2016 General Election poses quite an interesting set of candidates for our next US President, in that both party’s nominees are senior citizens – over the age of 65. Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton will be 69 years old by the time ballots are cast in November, and Republican front-runner, Donald Trump is 70 years old. Seniors may feel as though the next four political years may bring much-needed attention to senior issues, but according to AARP, the exact opposite is true.
With one-quarter of the voting population aged over 65, and having voted in 10 or more presidential elections, most seniors believe the present candidates have not sufficiently shared their position and plans on important senior issues. To win older voters, presidential and congressional candidates are being urged to take senior issues off the back-burner and state definitive plans on what issues are important for seniors in this coming election.
There is an overwhelming dissatisfaction concerning policies towards the long-term future of Social Security, lack of MediCare support and coverage for skilled in-home health care, broad-based funding for Alzheimer’s research and treatment options, the need for a national long-term care policy, advocacy and support for family caregivers, and the need to place a serious spotlight on nursing home fraud and abuse.
Positive Focus on Social Security
Social Security has been the longest tug-of-war in recent domestic political history, beginning in 1981 when Ronald Regan threatened to drastically cut survivors benefits – thankfully, leaders of both houses of Congress voiced an immediate and resounding rejection of the proposal. As rising out-of-pocket health costs and monthly expenses continue to eat at the nearly stagnant monthly dispensations, three different political views dominate the discussion:
- traditional view – defends maintaining the Social Security system as it is and opposes any reductions for present participants.
- privatization option – which would funnel payroll tax deductions to private financial service corporations to set up private investment accounts while cutting present benefits.
- deficit pundits – propose the immediate and continual reduction of benefits to cover out of control health care costs.
According to AARP, Hillary Clinton opposes raising the retirement age, any reductions in cost-of-living adjustments, and will fight privatization of the senior retirement plan through the stock market. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has been a bit more elusive concerning a specific plan but believes that a robust and growing economy with the foundation of sweeping tax reforms will be sufficient to shore up the dwindling Social Security funds.
Better Access to Home Care Services
Home care, home health and caregiver services are favored by homebound and disabled seniors who desire to remain in their homes as long as possible. Rising Medicare co-payments for in-home health care aides and skilled clinical providers are driving seniors into less desirable residential care systems. Changing the way Medicare pays for home health services and closing loopholes which invite fraud against seniors are vital conversations for voters this year.
Better National Long-Term Care Policy
The need for financing and delivery of a national long-term care policy (LTC) which will provide essential long-term care services for all seniors and embraces independent living and provides support for care given by family or friends, is also an important factor heading into the 2016 election. A national LTC plan would provide all necessary, long-term medical care and social services for everyone under one single federally funded and mandated public plan, and would be administered through a network of local public agencies.
More Funding for Alzheimers Research
Seniors are demanding this year’s presidential and congressional candidates develop public policies to invest additional funding into Alzheimers Research. It is concerning to the baby boomer generation, which is entering the years of increased risk of developing this disease, that there is no cure or preventative treatments. Advocates are actively engaged in persuading government officials at every level to get briefed on this issue and pass appropriate legislation making Alzheimers a priority.
Millions of seniors will be impacted by decisions made Washington to all these programs concerning funding, policy, research and program installations. The importance of voting for candidates sympathetic to senior issues is the responsibility of every American, of every age.