Seniors make up over 20% of the population in our district — some who’ve lived and worked here their entire lives, and others who are drawn by the natural beauty to make this their retirement destination. Yet these valued members of our community have been underrepresented and disregarded by our current representative.
As your Congresswoman, I will work to...
Ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Seniors who have worked hard all their lives should have the safety and comfort of knowing that the social insurance programs they’ve paid into will be there to assist them as they age. Our current representative does not value these programs. He reversed his own vote to support a corporate tax cut that opened a $1.6 trillion hole in the budget, which some in Congress are now using to justify cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I will fight to keep these vital programs intact, opposing any attempt to privatize Social Security or turn Medicare into a voucher program. And to extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund, I support lifting the $128,400 payroll tax cap that allows high earners to pay a lower share of their income into Social Security than middle-class Americans. Over 130,000 seniors in our district count on Social Security to afford a decent retirement, and I will never break trust with them.
Increase transportation options. Access to public transportation options for seniors can often mean the difference between isolation and the ability to continue living an active and self-sufficient lifestyle. Public transportation options also allow seniors to stay in their own homes longer, while still providing ready access to necessary services such as doctors, banks and shopping. More than 75% of seniors are choosing to live in suburban or rural communities in retirement, and these communities have traditionally had the biggest challenges when it comes to providing adequate public transportation. Our counties in California’s 4th District are doing the best they can to provide a variety of public transit options, but Congress can expand federal funding for these programs. Our current representative thinks that funds spent on mass transit are “squandered.” I will fight to increase the federal funding allocation to public transportation so that we can improve the transit options for seniors and all citizens.
Increase senior housing. Many seniors reach a point where “aging in place” in their homes is no longer an option. This often happens long before seniors are ready or need to enter a nursing home or assisted living facility, leaving seniors searching for more creative housing solutions in their home communities. Our district has a shortage of affordable rental housing options for seniors and other fixed- or low-income renters. I propose to solve this problem by fighting for HUD grants to build affordable multi-family housing dedicated to seniors in our district, and securing more funds to assist seniors with rental subsidies.
Tie Social Security to seniors’ real expenses. Currently, annual cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security Benefits are tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This does not accurately reflect the fact that seniors often spend a higher percentage of their income on medical expenses than those who are younger and currently employed, and that these medical expenses rise faster than the other expenses used to calculate the CPI-W (which include food, housing, clothing, and transportation). As a result, seniors are not currently receiving cost of living increases at a rate that allows them to keep up with increasing medical expenses as they age. I believe we should instead tie COLA increases to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), to provide a fair and accurate representation of the specific inflation rate our seniors face as they age.
Lower the cost of care and support rural providers. Seniors are arguably the hardest-hit population as costs of healthcare rise. I pledge to work toward lowering the costs of healthcare through price transparency legislation and ensuring that Medicare and Medicaid adequately reimburse rural hospitals to ensure their continuing operation. I will Ensuring the long-term viability of our rural hospitals and clinics makes great strides toward safeguarding the option for seniors to stay in their own homes in retirement for as long as they wish. Please see my stance on healthcare issues here.