Senior Citizen Political Wish List Prepared for
Congress by NCOA
Aging program funding, Medicare low-income
protections, senior hunger top list
Feb. 5, 2014 – While reminding members of Congress
that about one-quarter of the voters this November are expected to be
senior citizens (age 65 or older), the National Council on Aging is has
released a senior wish list for Congress. It suggests five ways Congress
can help seniors – “especially those in greatest need.”
Following is the list from the NCOA.
1. Restore funding for and modernize aging
Older Americans Act (OAA) funds
critical services that help seniors stay healthy, independent, and
economically secure in their own homes. These include programs like
senior nutrition, prevention, caregiver support, and transportation.
Senior services are facing a double whammy—funding
has not kept up with inflation or the growing population of seniors and
the federal budget sequester has caused even deeper cuts.
There is good news in the FY14 budget agreement,
which includes new investments to prevent elder falls, increases for
Alzheimer’s disease strategies, and restored funding for senior
nutrition. But more action is needed. At a minimum, funding for aging
services should be returned to pre-sequester levels.
The OAA also is overdue for reauthorization—an
opportunity to strengthen the bill for today’s older population.
Bipartisan momentum is building to vote on reauthorization this year,
including provisions to modernize senior centers, improve access to
evidence-based prevention, and reduce elder abuse.
2. Protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries
The Medicare Qualified Individual (QI) program pays
Medicare Part B premiums for beneficiaries whose incomes are 120-135% of
poverty—about $13,700-$15,300 per year. Without this assistance, these
seniors would not be able to afford doctor visits.
In recent years, QI has expired each Dec. 31, but
Congress has temporarily extended it along with fixes to Medicare
physician payments. This year, momentum is building to permanently fix
Medicare physician payments. Congress should
make the QI program permanent at
the same time and fund outreach to help low-income seniors access this
and other benefits.
3. Renew the Farm Bill to help fight senior
Editor’s Note: The list was issued
before the Farm Bill was passed late yesterday after years of battle in
Congress. It is expected to be signed by President Obama on Friday.
The Farm Bill renewal is poised to boost funding
for the nation’s food banks, transition the Commodity Supplemental Food
Program to a seniors-only program, and test using the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP) for nonprofit grocery delivery programs for seniors.
Yet, Congress continues to pursue SNAP cuts—on top
of an $11 billion cut in November. The latest proposal would eliminate
as much as $8.6 billion in benefits. SNAP helps nearly 4 million older
adults pay for healthy food each month.
4. Introduce long-term care legislation
The number of Americans needing
long-term services and supports
will more than double as the boomers age. Medicare does not cover them,
and private insurance is unaffordable for most people. The current
system places enormous burdens on family caregivers and forces seniors
to spend-down their life savings into poverty before getting help from
Medicaid. A recent Long-Term Care Commission report included
recommendations to improve the system.
Bi-partisan leadership is needed to introduce
legislation to provide affordable options for Americans that do not
exclude purchasers based on pre-existing conditions and that produce
significant savings to Medicaid. Education on the facts also is
5. Pass immigration reform
Comprehensive immigration reform would strengthen
direct care workforce, 20-23% of
whom are foreign born. Direct care workers provide home care and other
services that allow seniors to stay independent. Reform also would
produce economic benefits to Medicare and Social Security by increasing
the number of younger workers paying into these funds.
About NCOA The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports to be the nation’s
leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older
adults and the community organizations that serve them. Their goal is to
improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by
2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA says it has been a trusted voice and
innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of
aging in America. It works with local and national partners to give
older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we
advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors,
especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.
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