As the primary care giver for my 90 year old mother, who chooses to live alone, I have experienced many of the frustrations and problems confronting our seniors. The obscenely high cost of pharmaceuticals and the inflationary spiral of supplemental health care costs have combined with other concerns to deny the average senior citizen the opportunity to enjoy what should be their golden years. Under the Federal Medicare reform proposal, to be implemented in 2006, my mother's pharmaceutical costs would be over $5500 per year out of a gross income of $14000. The success of our society is a direct result of the Herculean efforts of our seniors throughout our nation's past. We owe them nothing less than to provide them with a secure and affordable future. Accomplishing this will require a dedicated, innovative effort by our political leaders.
I will offer comprehensive plans and initiatives to try to address some of these concerns:
Providing Health Care for all Delawareans via the Single Payer System as outlined in HB62 is the first bold step to be taken to fulfill our responsibilities regarding our seniors and retirees. This program will eliminate the costs of supplemental health care premiums, co-pays, deductibles and pharmaceuticals. I will propose legislation to legalize importation of drugs from Canada to relieve the oppressive financial drain on our senior's fixed incomes while we work to implement Universal Health Care.
The solvency of Social Security is another concern confronting our seniors. I would advocate dispensing with the limit on taxing gross income for Social Security purposes. I would allow the Medicare program to negotiate bulk purchase prices with the pharmaceutical industry.
Long term care is provided in the single payer proposal as is money for nursing home utilization and home care utilization. It would also eliminate the Medicare/Medicaid requirement that one must give up all savings and property before this program will cover long-term health care illness or injury. Many issues regarding elderly care and accessibility to home care assistance must be addressed now since the single payer system will take approximately two years to be fully running. Allocation of funds to finance and support nursing homes and home care must be earmarked from specific revenue sources (Lottery and Video gambling) and programs for use of these funds have to be developed within stringent guidelines to contain costs. The state should take a larger share of the gambling revenues and divert some of the existing contribution from the General Fund for this purpose. This is only a stop gap measure since revenue from this source can fluctuate. Responsible development of a dependable revenue source based on business and job creation revenues must be put immediately into the planning stage. Existing Nursing Homes should be responsibly monitored and regulated. Nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable and it is the responsibility of our legislators to protect them. I would propose creation of a board of governance to regulate Nursing homes and compile a list of performance and reliability statistics to ensure accountability in the industry.
Because of our growing population of senior citizens the state must take the initiative to develop more assisted living facilities for seniors whether in partnership or on its own. Social Service programs should be expanded and partnerships in that direction can be created between the state, county and local municipalities to distribute financial responsibilities and offer more option availability.
I will press for advanced stem cell research to wage war on the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Diabetes among our senior population. Since we've been able to extend life expectancy we must concentrate efforts to address quality of life issues. Suffering from advanced Macular Degeneration, my mother has become a virtual recluse and her plight is more often the rule rather than the exception. We have to use all means at our disposal to solve the health problems of our seniors.
Ultimately the only way to guarantee a secure and affordable future for our seniors is to ensure a strong economy. This will require an innovative, visionary approach and our leaders cannot be content with the status quo. Developing a steady stream of reliable revenue means growing new good paying jobs, aiding small businesses to retain and hire new personnel and assisting major corporations to grow their businesses in Delaware. There is no simple solution but implementing Universal Health Care seems to be a way to prime the fiscal pump.