COMMENTARY: Candidates must heed priorities of 50-plus voters

Oct 8th, 2020 | By | Category: News

As voters prepare to cast their ballots in the November election, AARP is committed to helping older Americans exercise their right to vote safely while holding candidates accountable on key issues.

In August, AARP launched Protect Voters 50+, which demands action from politicians to ensure that 50-plus-year-olds – from working parents to family caregivers to seniors in nursing homes – can vote safely. AARP is urging candidates to talk about the issues that matter to 50-plus voters, like strengthening Social Security and Medicare and protecting the economic health of older adults.

Washington is home to more than 1.3 million Social Security beneficiaries – 18 percent of which rely on those funds for 90 percent or more of their income. As you consider a candidate, here are AARP’s priorities for the Social Security program:

  • Achieving long-term security and solvency. Social Security should be protected not only for current retirees but for future generations of Americans.
  • Ensuring protections for those most in need. Any reforms should guarantee adequate benefits for those most reliant on Social Security and those who would have trouble postponing retirement
  • Recognizing the value of Social Security’s core elements. Social Security provides benefits that Americans earn through their working lives, and the program should be financed to ensure long-term adequacy and solvency.

 

Protect and strengthen Medicare

Medicare provides affordable healthcare for 1.2 million Washingtonians. Hard-working Americans pay into the program their entire working lives and are guaranteed benefits that help make healthcare accessible and affordable. Lowering costs and improving the efficiency and value of healthcare spending is especially crucial for Medicare, as the number of nationwide enrollees is expected to grow to 80 million by 2030. As you consider a candidate, keep in mind some of AARP’s priorities for the Medicare program:

  • Maintain affordable benefits that meet the needs of Medicare enrollees. This includes allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, ensuring affordable premiums and cost-sharing, as well as exploring ways to expand coverage to important services like dental care and hearing aids.
  • Ensure all people with Medicare have access to a choice of high-quality healthcare providers sufficient to meet their needs.
  • Sustain Medicare for the future by reducing waste, fraud, and abuse, and making sure that its resources are spent wisely.

 

Secure the economic health of Americans 50-plus

In 2019, workers over 50 made up 31 percent of Washington’s workforce. Sadly, the unemployment rate for older workers this year reached the highest on record since the federal government began tracking it in 1948. The COVID-19 pandemic is making it even more difficult for Americans 50-plus to keep and find jobs. That’s why AARP is demanding action from our elected officials to protect the health and financial security of voters 50-plus. AARP would like candidates to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Congress should extend emergency unemployment benefits, including additional categories of eligibility and additional benefit amounts, until the pandemic and its economic effects end.
  • State and federal lawmakers should provide additional support, including tax credits, to caregivers – 828,000 here in Washington, many of whom are spending more time caring for family members because of the pandemic.
  • Ensure that employers don’t discriminate against older workers in hiring them back after the pandemic.

For more than 60 years, AARP has been the champion of the 50-plus. Join us in calling on every candidate to Protect Voters 50+ – visit aarp.org/election2020 today! But don’t stop there; share the website with your friends and family to get them involved as well and help us spread the word even further.  Together, we can make the voice of the 50+ voter heard!

 

Cathy MacCaul, who wrote this article, is AARP Washington’s advocacy director.

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