Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad
As I sat down to write this month’s column, geared toward the senior segment of our community, I considered sharing cozy recollections of Thanksgivings past but then I realized that a vision of pilgrims and Native Americans sitting around a turkey dinner with all the trimmings was best reserved for grade-school plays. This November is perhaps one of the most crucial in the history of our nation.
In 2018, indigenous tribes are struggling to survive and protect what little land and resources exist in their ever-dwindling domain. We, the settlers, are once again fighting among ourselves. For all the bloody battles we’ve fought under the guise of defending our rights we seem to have lost sight of what our rights truly are.
We continue to fight over land that wasn’t ours to begin with. We continue to be blind to the fact that we are all the same beneath the skin. Families continue to be torn asunder by partisan alliances with opposing biases as to what is morally right and what is inherently wrong. We seem to look to political parties to define our inalienable rights, when in fact, we don’t understand the definition of the word inalienable or how it applies to us as individuals and as a country.
One thing is certain, the time has come when the land of the free and home of the brave must stop fighting among themselves and define once and for all whether we will continue to honor the United States Constitution as it was set forth by our forefathers.
Nov. 6 is a decisive time for our country. Every single vote will matter. Gone are the days when we could turn over and go back to sleep on election day and expect that when we awaken all will be just as it should be and everything will work out for the best with or without our vote.
Some of the issues of importance to seniors on the November ballot are social security as some elected officials have proposed cutting social security as part of deficit reduction. Social security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) could face a major change. Also, rising drug prices. Prescription drug costs are increasing at a rate 10 times faster than inflation – and state legislatures, Congress and the federal government, are tasked with finding solutions. Medicare funding is also an important issue. Medicare’s trust fund will fall short by 2026. Candidates are proposing varying solutions that could affect every citizen over the age of 60.
With Medicaid, Kentucky tried to put in place a new rule this year to add work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program, but is revising it after a federal court rejected the initial version. The makeup of statehouses and Congress after November could prove critical to Medicaid’s future. The future of health insurance is also addressed. House and Senate elections in November will help decide whether efforts to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act will return next year. Lowering retirement taxes could affect the senior community. The November election may be critical for several states in deciding how to handle taxing retirement benefits.
Fixing pension shortfalls is also important. In 2016, state pension funds had a $1.4 trillion deficit. Changes could include measures to make defined-benefit pensions more sustainable or offering new employees “hybrid” plans which combine defined-benefit plans with 401(k)-like plans. More help for caregivers is important for seniors as America’s 40 million family caregivers are getting some much-needed help from state governments – and that movement may spread if the midterm elections cause changes in some state legislatures that have been slower to act. Seniors should also be concerned about fraud. People over the age of 65 are 34 percent more likely to lose money to fraud. The November elections could determine whether states legislate against fraud aggressively or begin to back-peddle on elder abuse.
In the last election, voters over the age of 60 accounted for 39 percent of all voters. We have a significant voice. Make your voice heard.
If you are unable to get to your polling place, follow the link https://elect.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx to find out options for voting online or by absentee ballot. Also, don’t fall victim to voter scams by visiting https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2018/midterm-election-scams.html. For more information, go to usa.gov/election-office and enter your state/zip code for specifics about voting in your district.
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