U.S. voters over age 65 are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the direction in which the country is headed, citing issues affecting seniors as the most important factor heading into the 2016 elections, according to a new poll from Bring The Vote Home.
Of the nearly 2,000 respondents, more than a third (35 percent) said that seniors’ issues would be top of mind when casting their 2016 ballot for President and members of Congress. National security (27 percent) and the economy (23 percent) ranked second and third in importance among voters. Seventy-one percent do not think candidates are paying enough attention to the issues facing seniors.
“What we’re consistently hearing from registered voters in this country should underscore why candidates need to commit to smart policies for our nation’s seniors,” said Keith Myers, chairman of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “This voting bloc is looking for leadership that will ensure they have certain protections, including access to quality and affordable healthcare services, when they need them the most.”
Among the notable issues revealed in the poll are voters’ support of key Medicare programs, like Medicare Advantage and skilled home healthcare, which allow seniors to receive quality services in a cost-effective and convenient manner. Ninety percent of respondents had positive feelings about home healthcare services and were in favor of Medicare coverage for skilled clinical services provided under a physician’s care to homebound seniors and disabled Americans.
Underscoring seniors’ support for Medicare services, 80 percent of seniors agree that lawmakers should support, not cut, cost-effective services like skilled home healthcare. Further, more than half (59 percent) of voters said that they would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who opposes cuts to home health.
While President Obama’s 2017 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal calls for the re-imposition of a copayment on Medicare home health beneficiaries, voters polled widely opposed cost-sharing. More than half (58 percent) totally opposed proposed copayments of $100 for home health patients – which have been shown to jeopardize seniors’ access to care and increase spending by driving patients into more expensive care setting.
“Historically, Congress has seen fit to reject beneficiary cost sharing proposals for home healthcare patients because it failed to reduce healthcare costs and forced patients to seek care in more expensive institutional settings,” added Myers. “It is not only bad policy, as we have seen, but it’s extremely unpopular with the seniors who depend on home health.”
In addition to support for skilled home health, respondents also voiced approval for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which cover many types of services not paid for by traditional Medicare. Ninety percent of those polled reported being “totally satisfied” with their Medicare Advantage plan, while 85 percent were “totally satisfied” with the plan’s coverage options. Benefits (85 percent), choice of providers (88 percent), care coordination (78 percent), and cost (75 percent) were all areas where senior voters felt satisfied with their MA current services.
“Clearly, U.S. senior voters have strong opinions about our nation’s policies – particularly the healthcare issues they are facing in their retirement years,” Myers continued. “Hopefully, our candidates for the Presidency, Senate and House of Representatives will pay close attention to the needs of this important group and advance policies that protect their healthcare choices – in 2016 and beyond.”
SOURCE: Bring The Vote Home