Election 2020 - 5 Key Issues

Posted on 10/23/20

More than in any election in recent history, voters this November will elect leaders whose decisions and actions will directly affect their lives.  This is especially true, experts say, as Americans continue to cope with the coronavirus and the economic toll it has taken on the country.

AARP's multifaceted, multiplatform voter engagement campaign - Protect Voters 50+ - focuses on the core issues that AARP members and the 50+ population say are most important to them: protecting Social Security and Medicare, lowering prescription drug prices, keeping residents and staff of long-term care facilities safe, and helping Americans recover from the impact of the pandemic on the nation's economy. Public opinion surveys have consistently shown that older adults want to know where candidates stand on these five key issues.  Here is a snapshot of these issues and what is at stake in this election:

Medicare - More than 62 million people 65 and older or with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare. Funding is an issue - the program's trustees estimate that within six years, Medicare won't be able to pay full hospital benefits. What is at stake: Ensuring that Medicare can continue to provide access to quality and affordable health care for older Americans.

Prescription Drugs - For many years drug prices have increased at rates far higher than inflation. In 2017, for instance, the average cost for a year's supply of a single prescription drug for someone with a chronic illness was over $19,000 - that's more than some retirees' annual Social Security retirement benefit. What is at stake: How to reduce what consumers in the United States have to pay for life-sustaining prescription drugs.

Social Security - About 45 million retired workers and 3.1 million dependents receive Social security benefits; currently, 1 out of every 3 of these households rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. According to the most recent estimates, the trust funds that help pay for the program will be exhausted by 2035. Without any changes to the system, the program at that point would still be able to pay 79 percent of its current benefits. What is at stake: Ensuring that current and future generations will get the retirement benefits they have earned and rely on.

Long-term Care - Even though fewer than 1 percent of Americans live in nursing homes, these facilities represent more than 40 percent of the deaths from the coronavirus. Even before the pandemic, according to a recent report, 8 out of 10 nursing homes were cited for poor infection-control practices in the past few years. What is at stake: How to protect residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities against sickness, neglect and isolation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to ensure that older Americans can have the choice to age in their homes.

The Economy - In April the unemployment rate for older workers reached its highest level since the federal government began keeping records in 1948. As employers have moved to open the economy, Americans 50+ are having to balance their personal health concerns with their need to work. What is at stake: Ensuring that older workers can recover from the economic downturn that the nation has faced since the pandemic began.

For more information on AARP’s Protect Voters 50+ Voter Engagement Campaign, click here.

Interested in learning more about voting in West Virginia's General Election? AARP West Virginia's voter education page can be found here.

This story is provided by AARP West Virginia. Visit the AARP West Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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