Older Vermonters have long held our communities together and we must honor that. In the Senate, I will prioritize ways to keep our communities vibrant and intergenerational. To do that, we must ensure comprehensive care for all, including long term care and home and community based services. That also requires that we address senior poverty and strengthen social security, all of which is doable. This is how we help older Vermonters age with dignity.
Strengthening and Expanding Social Security
We all deserve the right to retire with dignity and security. Nearly 70 million Americans and over 155 thousand Vermonters rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet. Yet, this program is frequently targeted for cuts or privatization schemes, with constant calls to raise the eligibility age so that fewer older Americans receive benefits from the program they paid into their entire lives.
I have been a strong advocate for expanding access to Social Security and, in Washington, I will work to strengthen and increase benefits and ensure future generations can safely rely on social security. I will work to make sure benefits increase so that they meet the growing costs of care.
Cutting Drug Prices and Providing Comprehensive Health Care
Pharmaceutical corporations charge Americans the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. All you need to do is cross the Canadian border to see the stark contrast in drug prices: for Type 2 Diabetes, as just one of many examples, the price is $1,000 cheaper than in the U.S. We must lower the costs of prescription drugs and stop the outrageous price gouging from Big Pharma. I will fight to dramatically bring down costs and help patients access low-cost prescriptions from industrialized countries by allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. Finally, I would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to tie the price of prescription drugs in the U.S. to the median price for the equivalent drugs in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan.
I believe in a Medicare for All that includes home and community based services and long term care for seniors, and I will work to ensure seniors have swift access to these services that allow them to live in dignity and in their communities.
Ending Senior Poverty
After a lifetime of working hard, raising and providing for a family, and contributing to the community, older Vermonters deserve to live with dignity and financial security.
It is unacceptable in the United States that anyone lives in poverty – especially our seniors. In Vermont, 11 percent of our seniors are living at or below the poverty line, and nationally over 15 million Americans over the age of 65 are economically insecure. We can and must do more to ensure our neighbors are cared for and do not face financial barriers to basic necessities like food, housing, or medicine. I will fight to expand social security, lower costs for seniors, and invest in critical programs that keep seniors healthy.
In 2019, 5.2 million seniors experienced food insecurity, meaning they did not have access to enough food for a healthy lifestyle. This problem is even worse in rural areas, where seniors may have poor access to healthy foods or other necessities and are less likely to utilize home-and-community-based services. I will work with our local state partners to advocate for increased funding for programs like Age Well and Meals on Wheels so that all of our neighbors live securely and with dignity.