Senior Vote Shows Opinions On Issues
On Tuesday, Election Day 2002, as has been the case in recent years, this congressional election will show how seniors feel about the future of Social Security and proposals for reducing prescription drug costs.
The Democratic and Republican parties have widely divergent approaches to dealing with these critically important issues.
On Social Security’s future, Democrats support modest changes to the present system to create increased payment into the system, which will be in serious trouble in a few years as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age. In about 30 years, the whole system could collapse as payout of funds will outpace contributions from workers.
The Republican plan, which is President George W. Bush’s solution, is to allow workers to invest some of their Social Security in alternative investments, a cumbersome and somewhat risky change which could lead to reductions in benefits for present beneficiaries.
As for prescription drug cost relief, the two parties have been unable to agree on a plan. Democrats favor providing prescription drug coverage under Medicare, charging a small monthly premium to whoever chooses to accept the coverage.
The Republicans propose having private insurance companies provide the coverage, much as Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) provide health care coverage to Medicare members. Analysis of the different proposals indicate the Republican plan would create more out-of-pocket expenses than the Democratic plan. However, the Democratic plan would require considerably more funding to support it.
Bush has made two proposals to offer modest savings to seniors. The first, a drug discount card, was declared invalid because it was outside the president’s authority. The plan has been modified to make it legal and is expected to be offered by next June.
Last week, the president offered a surprise plan that would loosen the hold major pharmaceutical firms have on drug patents, and by so doing allow generic drugs to come to market sooner, bringing with them savings for seniors.
Democrats complained that this sudden release of the plan was merely an attempt to influence votes in Tuesday’s elections, where these two issues and how seniors vote on them will likely decide the outcome of the balloting.
Seniors have a major stake in Tuesday’s elections and their vote for a Democrat or a Republican is in the truest sense a bread-and-butter decision since each plan has a direct impact on senior’s pocketbooks.
For that reason, we urge all seniors to examine these issues carefully before voting. At stake in the elections is which party will control the next Congress, which in turn means which Social Security and prescription drug plan will probably be passed by the House and Senate.
Seniors! Do your homework and be sure to vote in the elections next Tuesday.
alzheimer’s conference: The largest Alzheimer’s conference in the nation, which brought together hundreds of family caregivers and medical, legal and caregiving professionals and introduced the new Alzinfo.org Web site, was held last week in Brooklyn under the sponsorship of the city Department for the Aging (DFTA).
The 18th annual Mayoral Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease last Tuesday at the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, an all-day symposium, provided special outreach to Latino and Chinese caregivers. Morning and afternoon workshops in English, Spanish and Cantonese addressed critical issues in the areas of research, medical advances, policy issues, care management and resource options.
An Exhibit Expo offered information on products, programs and services ranging from insurance to nursing homes to non-profit social/human service agencies.
The new Alzinfo.org Web site, a comprehensive Web site for Alzheimer’s information and resources, was announced during lunch.
The symposium, which was attended by hundreds of Alzheimer’s caregivers, featured addresses by DFTA Commissioner Edwin Mendez–Santiago and Jeanette C. Takamura of the Columbia University School of Social Work and former Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the DFTA, Alzheimer’s Disease is the fourth largest killer of older Americans. Currently, four million people in the United States have the disease, and the number is expected to triple in 30 years.
DFTA says that for 70 percent of the victims, the primary source of care is the immediate family. Annual care costs are upwards of $22,000 per patient. The disease affects all races, ethnic and economic groups and both sexes. There is no way to prevent it and there is no cure, says DFTA.