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The November Election and Aging – Keystone Elder Law – Mechanicsburg, PA

Our presidential candidates are in the news on a daily basis. Some folks may already know who they plan to vote for in November, while others may still be undecided.  Despite the fact that our senior population is rapidly increasing, issues related to an older population have not been hot topics during this year’s campaign.  So where do the candidates stand on some of these issues?  A review of the websites for Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump revealed the following ideas and positions. (If a candidate is not mentioned under a topic, there was no specific information on the website at the time of review. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.  This article is for information purposes only and support or opposition for any particular candidate is not its intent).

Social Security: Clinton plans to ask the wealthiest Americans to contribute more and reduce how much benefits decrease when a spouse dies.  She is against privatization, raising the retirement age, and reducing annual cost of living adjustments.

Sanders would like to strengthen and expand the program, including lifting the cap on taxable income so that those with higher incomes pay the same percentage into the program as everyone else.

Medicare:   Clinton proposes changing Medicare billing from fee for service (where every service is billed separately) to bundling (billing would cover all services provided during an “episode of care”).

Clinton and Sanders both support allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.

Sanders would like to close the Medicare Part D “donut hole” by 2017 (under current law it should be closed by 2020). He would also restore Medicare prescription drug discounts for low income seniors and those with disabilities.

Health Care: Clinton supports allowing Americans to import lower cost drugs from foreign countries with approved safety standards, and lowering out of pocket costs for copays and deductibles.  She would continue the Affordable Care Act and spend $500 million to make enrollment easier.

Cruz would seek to have the Affordable Care Act repealed, open insurance markets across state lines, and expand health savings accounts. He also believes in separating health insurance from employment, and would pursue reforms to make health care “personal, portable, and affordable.”

Sanders also believes in separating health insurance from employment, but would like to see the creation of a single payer federally administered health care program for everyone, “Medicare for all.” To lower prescription drug costs, he would seek to allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies, prohibit drug companies from paying generic drug manufacturers to stay off the market, and require drug companies to publicly report information that affects pricing.

Trump supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, allowing individuals to fully deduct health insurance premiums from their taxable income, and making contributions to health savings accounts tax free. He believes that funds in health savings accounts should be allowed to accumulate and, if unused, become part of an individual’s estate which could be passed to heirs without a penalty. To lower prescription drug costs, he would promote free markets for drug providers who offer safe, reliable, and less expensive products (including overseas providers).

Caregiving:  Clinton is the only candidate to specifically address Alzheimer’s disease. She would like to invest $2 billion per year in research for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and provide Medicare coverage for Alzheimer’s disease care planning services to ensure proper diagnosis and coordination of care.  Family members who are caring for aging parents and grandparents should receive tax relief, and their work as caregivers should count toward Social Security benefits.  Clinton also supports up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for caregivers (pay should be at least 2/3 of an individual’s current wage), plus an additional 12 weeks of paid medical leave for their own use.  She proposes a tax on wealthy Americans to cover the cost.

If you are interested in registering to vote in Pennsylvania’s general primary on April 26th, the last day to register is Monday, March 28th.

The last day to register to vote in the general election is October 11th, and the election will be held on November 8th.

For information about elections and voting (including how to register), visit or contact your County Board of Elections. The telephone number for the Cumberland County Board is 717-240-6385.

For those who would like to vote but are unable to make it to the polls due to physical limitations, travel, or other situations, absentee ballot applications are also available from the County Board of Elections. Original applications must be received by the Tuesday prior to the election, and voted ballots must be returned to the County Board of Elections by the Friday prior to the election.

Karen Kaslow, RN