Candidates View On Senior Issues

Friday, 5 October 2018

With campaign signs dotting the landscape across the state, it’s no secret that the midterms are around the corner. But a new poll from AARP indicates there’s something missing in the campaign rhetoric.

The survey found 91 percent of Tennessee voters age 50 and older think Medicare is very important for people’s health in retirement, and almost as many prioritize Social Security benefits. While most people have a clear position on these programs, Rebecca Kelly, director of AARP Tennessee, said the state’s candidates for governor and U.S. Senate haven’t made their plans known for either program.

“None of the candidates right now for U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race are talking about the issues that people over 50 care most about,” she said, “and that is lowering health-care costs and strengthening and reforming Social Security.”

Phil Bredesen, the Democratic candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat, said he believes cost savings can be found in Medicare and Medicaid if the programs were made more efficient. Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn has said she’ll support President Donald Trump’s agenda, which in the past has proposed cutting the Medicare budget. The positions of the state’s candidates for governor are unclear.

Other priorities identified in the poll include continued protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, protecting older Americans from paying much higher prices for health coverage, and supporting an income-tax credit for family caregivers. Kelly noted that many of the issues raised in the poll affect people of all ages.

“These issues are not only important to people over 50, but multi-generations,” she said, “because many of us are caring for people older and younger than us, and health care is across the board. Prescription drug issues are across the board.”

On Oct. 15, Gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean and a representative from Bill Lee’s campaign will discuss aging issues with FiftyForward and the Nashville Council on Aging at the Patricia Hart Building in Nashville.
The AARP state report is online at aarp.org.