Influential older voters have much to consider

Why do seniors turn out to vote more than any other age group?

Older adults, especially those that are no longer working, are particularly susceptible to changes in policy made by elected officials. A large percentage of their income and access to healthcare resources are tied to government programs.

It also helps that seniors have years of experience voting, are generally more familiar with the mechanics of how to vote and have more time to vote than younger voters.

The first presidential debate, which ran earlier this week focused on the records of President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence, and the integrity of the election.

These are important topics for the country at large, but let’s take a look at two important issues that matter to many seniors in the upcoming election.

Sixty million Americans are now insured by Medicare. One in four people receiving Medicare benefits are 80 and older. Both candidates have proposals affecting Medicare.

These include whether to keep spending at current levels.

Whether to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies or use other ways to lower prescription costs, such as keeping the Medicare Part D “donut hole” closed. The gradual closure of the “donut hole” has saved Medicare beneficiaries almost $28 billion since its inception in 2010.

Whether to lower the Medicare eligibility age and allow people ages 60 to 64 to buy insurance through Medicare since so many are out of work and losing out on employer medical insurance.

Another area of interest to seniors is the future of Social Security. In 2019, nearly nine out of 10 retired workers received benefits through the program.

The Social Security trust fund is estimated to run out by 2035. COVID-19 and the resulting high unemployment rates affect payments into Social Security and its financial future.

To help keep the program solvent, candidates are proposing, variously, budget cuts to help extend the funds or a raise in payroll taxes paid by wealthy Americans to keep the program solvent.

Of course, any of these proposals would likely have to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate. A senior’s vote might depend on which side each candidate stands on regarding the issue. And of course, knowing where their representatives and senators stand will matter, too.

I know many seniors were concerned about voting in person on Nov. 3; this will be the first presidential general election where every California voter will automatically receive a vote-bymail ballot.

These ballots will be sent to registered voters starting Oct. 2.

Voters may mail their marked ballot (no postage required) or drop it off at ballot drop-off locations. To find drop-off locations in Ventura County, go to Ventura- Vote.org.

You can track your ballot and sign up to receive alerts at sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/ wheres-my-ballot.

Participating in elections is one of the great freedoms of American life.

No matter what you believe or whom you support, it is important to exercise your rights, especially as a senior.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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