In this year's New Hampshire Senate Race race, incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan is facing challenger Republican Don Bolduc. To understand how they plan to protect Social Security and Medicare, strengthen our long-term care system, and lower prescription drug prices, AARP New Hampshire asked each candidate to answer four key questions in 60-second videos. Here are their responses, with transcripts:
1. Social Security is a promise that must be kept. If elected, how would you protect earned Social Security benefits for the future?
Social Security is a program I'm always going to fight to protect. Look, people pay into the program throughout their working lives so that they can retire with dignity and financial stability. So we have to do everything we can to strengthen it. That starts by growing our economy so that wages are higher and we have more revenues into the program.
But one of the other things we can do to strengthen Social Security is to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more into the program while middle class Americans are protected from any kind of payroll tax increase. Lastly, we have to fight against efforts to privatize Social Security or do away with it altogether. I will always stand to protect your Social Security.
Well, thank you for that question. And I think it's a very appropriate question, because I do believe it is a promise and it needs to be kept. And the first thing I think we need to do is prevent Congress from stealing from the Social Security fund. And I do call it stealing because they take it out. They don't put it back in.
It's consistently without the funding that it needs to take care of our folks that are on Social Security and need those benefits. So it is a promise and we must do that. And if we're not doing that, we're going to be in big trouble. We have to really concentrate on discipline in this area because we cannot afford those that are going into the Social Security system to be without the benefits they paid in.
I don't consider it an entitlement. It's your money, not the government. Government's money. And there are other things that we need to do in order to ensure Social Security benefits are kept for our retiring population.
2.Medicare provides critical health coverage for older Americans. If elected, how would you strengthen it for the future?
Well, I think first and foremost, we need to simplify it. It is very, very complicated. We have a to Z plan that just doesn't make any sense. And we need to consolidate that. So it's really focus is on the patient and the patient can understand it and less on the people that manage the program, the middle man, which causes a lot of problems.
People just don't understand the Medicare and what their options are. So, number one, simplify. Number two, let's let's bring in a, you know, an advantage care, invest in advantage care and in a comprehensive care. And let's be upfront with the Medicare plans and how they help people and put the options in the hands of the patient and not the government and not people who manage Medicare. Medicare is like a Gordian knot. We have to cut it in half and reform it.
I'm always going to fight to protect and strengthen Medicare because it is so essential to a dignified and healthy retirement. And that's why I am so glad that just a few months ago we were able to finally empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with drug companies that will save the program billions of dollars over years, but also put more money back in seniors pockets.
This new law also caps Medicare Part D out of pocket expenses for beneficiaries, and it caps the price of insulin to $35 a month for those on Medicare. These are important steps forward to strengthening the Medicare program, but there's more work to do. And the other thing we always have to do is stand firm against those who would eliminate Medicare or privatize it.
I will always do that.
3. Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. If elected, how will you lower prescription drug prices for all Americans?
It is outrageous that prescription drug prices keep skyrocketing while Big Pharma rakes in record profits. That's why it's so important that we finally passed a law that allows the Medicare program to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies that not only saves our seniors money, but it also will lower the cost of prescription drugs across the board. I'm also proud of the work I did working across the aisle with a Republican to make sure that Big Pharma can't overcharge the government for some of its pharmaceutical products.
And lastly, I'm working with Republicans to get more generics into the market. They generally are cheaper and they provide more competition and help lower costs again across the board. There's more work to do, but we'll keep standing up to Big Pharma.
Well, first of all, as a candidate, I don't take money from Big Pharma or big men, and I do that specifically so that I can work for you. And this goes along with Medicare as well in the prescriptions. There's this thing called the donut hole. We got to get rid of the donut hole. There's three levels of it and it's just cost prohibitive in many ways.
And it cost you money then it doesn't cost you money in the donut hole must go away. We must put a federal cap on prescription drugs, and we must ensure that people aren't paying too much money for the medications that they need. There's no need for that here in America. They figured out how to do it in Europe.
We can certainly figure out how to do it here in America. Prescription drugs are essential in the maintenance of health care and maintenance of controlling diseases. So let's come together and let's work hard to lower prescription drug costs.
4. America’s long-term care system is broken. If elected, how will you make affordable, quality long-term care options available, especially at home, while also supporting family caregivers?
Well, I think what we need to do, first and foremost, is make care affordable at home. And this is nursing care. This is occupational specialty with speech and physical. I think that's hugely important. And then the thing that we're neglecting to do, which I think is hugely important, and that is a focus on taking care of the caregiver. And I believe we should do that. Caregiver burnout rate is hugely high. Not only is it high in Medicare, but it's also high among our veteran population. So we really need to focus on home care, opening the aperture. So we have nurses that can teach occupational care and physical care and anything else they need because at home, care is a lot cheaper than in a facility and then take care of our caregivers. This is essential to a program that is patient focused and caregiver focused.
Most Americans really want to age at home. Most people with disabilities want to be able to be independent and stay as a part of their community so that they can enjoy their friends, family and neighbors and they can thrive. This is something my husband and I experienced were both caregivers for our adult son who lives with cerebral palsy.
And he and we have all benefited from the extraordinary creativity and professionalism of direct caregivers. That's why I'm original co-sponsor of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which will allow us to build a stronger infrastructure for home care, and also make sure that direct care professionals earn a family sustaining wage. There's more work to do. We got to keep pushing to make sure that everybody who wants to age with dignity or live with dignity with a disability at home has the opportunity to do that.
AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot this year. That is why we are publishing the AARP Asks the Candidates voter guide series, so candidates can share their plans on issues important to 50-plus voters.
AARP has a proud 36-year history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.
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