California Democrats recognize that there is systemic ageism in our society and we are committed to fight it and to recognize the importance and dignity of seniors who enrich our everyday experiences and who connect us with our past. As the fastest growing age group in the nation, people over the age of 65 are a strong driving force in our collective future. We recognize that older adults are not the “other” but simply in another phase of the life cycle, deserving of respect and dignity. We affirm and embrace the continuing contributions of other generations and are committed to fostering a strong bond between them. Older adults deserve the highest standard of care from the health care industry and a prescription drug program that provides all necessary medication. We are committed to protecting senior home ownership and hard-earned pensions, as well as the support services and assistance that help older adults who are at risk or in need to maintain independence and a good quality of life. Everyone, no matter their age, must be offered the opportunity to remain in jobs so successfully performed. We believe social and economic safeguards that maintain a decent standard of living, adequate nutrition, physical and mental health are human rights.
Those in the age group 55 through 65 are among those most affected by the economic downturn and who have lost the ability to regain financial footing. Experiencing salary reductions, many don’t qualify for the same benefits as their elders, such as low-income housing and Medicare. Forced retirement for those as young as 55 results in the loss of much needed income, future benefits, and additional financial burdens to the Social Security and Medicare systems.
To fight ageism and to honor California seniors, California Democrats will:
- Oppose mandatory retirement;
- Work for additional retraining for those 55 to 65 in order to remain in the workforce, extend unemployment, housing and health care benefits to individuals 55 and older and their immediate families;
- Push to strengthen Social Security and preserve hard-earned pensions as the bedrock of a dignified retirement;
- Support legislation to remove the FICA income limit so all wage earners contribute to Medicare and Social Security;
- Demand that Medicare continue as a guaranteed right;
- Work toward universal, comprehensive, single-payer health care, and until that is achieved, reform Medicare Part D to make it affordable and easily accessible to people of all income levels, specifically addressing eligibility problems and the private drug plan choices;
- Affirm the right of all who need it to manage their attendant care to live with dignity in one’s own home and community;
- Continue to support the delivery of HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program) services to all counties in California;
- Support increased, stable funding, and expansion of service hours for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and residential care, giving consideration to the special challenges in isolated, rural communities;
- Demand greater focus on investigating and prosecuting financial crimes against seniors, and other forms of elder abuse, and that all existing penalties for crimes against seniors be strictly enforced;
- Advocate for stronger oversight of reverse mortgage programs;
- Fight to preserve and protect programs that serve low-income seniors such as: Adult Protective Services, Senior Community Employment, Multipurpose Senior Service Programs, Alzheimer’s Day Care Resource Centers, Home-Delivered Meals, Long Term Care Ombudsman, California Senior Legal Hotline, renter’s assistance, homeowner property tax discount assistance, and property tax postponement;
- Work to expand public transportation and other transit services for those on limited incomes, with or without health concerns, to travel freely and enjoy a good quality of life; and,
- Work to guarantee quality living conditions for all seniors to live with dignity and able to afford the necessities of life: housing, food, health care, and a respectable standard of living.