U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Catherine Purcell, and Lee Murphy answer questions important to Delawareans age 50+

Posted on 10/21/20

Social Security is a self-financed, off budget program that half of all seniors rely on more for than 50% of their income.  If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?

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Purcell: I believe that the people that paid into social security should receive the funds from social security and in addition the interest from the funds they put in. The government should be held responsible for any mismanagement of the funds and legislation should be written to make sure people are returned the money that is rightfully due to them.

Blunt Rochester: Social Security is a lifeline for millions of older Americans, and we must take bold action to preserve it. I’m an original co-sponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would no only ensure long-term solvency of the program, but would lower taxes for beneficiaries, increase benefits and keep pace with the cost of living as the economy evolves. Folks have been paying into Social Security for their whole lives, and it should be there when they need it and for generations to come. Millions of Americans have kept up their end of the deal, and government must do the same. After all, you earned it.

Murphy: We need a booming economy….vibrant economy to ensure the viability of social security going forward. We need to continue to lower taxes, do away with regulations. We need an economy where people are working, businesses are prospering. This will ensure the viability of social security for years to come. Second, our federal government can garnish Social Security to pay debts. Creditors can’t do that. I will fight to get rid of that regulation. Number three, I will fight to have a cost-of-living increase guaranteed every year for all social security recipients.

On average, seniors already spend one out of six dollars on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, lower health care costs, and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?

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Blunt Rochester: Millions of Americans depend of Medicare, from seniors to individuals with disabilities. In Congress, I’ve fought and advocated for robust funding for Medicare and consistently opposed the administration’s efforts to impose cuts to the program. I have and will continue to work on policies that reduce costs, co-pays and deductibles whether for private or public health insurance. I’ve championed the expansion of the Medicare Savings Program and H.R. 3 which passed the House earlier this year, and would cap costs for over 3 million Medicare beneficiaries. I was able to secure critical funding for our state’s rural hospitals and am committed to make sure Medicare beneficiaries have access to the hospitals and doctors they need. Healthcare is a human right, and everyone should have access to quality and affordable care.

Murphy: In regards to Medicare, there will be no cuts. I will do everything in my power to protect Medicare. Pre-Covid, we had the strongest economy in our country’s history. I’m sure we will return to that strong economy. That economy will provide the revenue needed for Medicare to continue into the future. Another thing, we need to fight Medicare fraud. In regards to lowering health care costs, we live in a state where there’s no competition. Christiana Care pretty much controls everything. They have a monopoly. We need to bring other providers into the state so we have competition, and that will lower health care costs for all.

Purcell: I support legislation that allows for alternative medicine and natural therapy to compete with big Pharma and conventional medicine. I support increasing investigations of Medicare fraud, and increases associated with criminal penalties. I support allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines and to open up the competition for health insurance companies to compete against each other. And I support increasing penalties for price fixing.

Unemployment during the Coronavirus crisis reached the highest levels since the Great Depression, and older Americans have been disproportionately affected. If elected, how will you help Americans over the age of 50 recover economically from the effects of the Coronavirus?

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Purcell: I would be in favor of stimulus for the American people and I would also be in favor of increasing the payroll tax. These two together will re-boot our economy.

Blunt Rochester: The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the U.S. economy to the core, and we must come up with a comprehensive plan to get it under control. This pandemic is hurting all Americans, but is hitting our seniors particularly hard…whether you’re a retiree or a small business owner. I was proud to vote for the CARES Act, and am hopeful we can come to an agreement on an additional Covid package to bring relief to Americans. As an AARP member myself who was unexpectedly widowed six year ago, I wasn’t sure what life held for me. My heart is with anyone impacted by this pandemic, fearing for their job, their business or their health. I’ve been working to ensure that workers that have found themselves under or unemployed, because of the pandemic have the resources they need to get back on their feet. Through the CARES Act I was able to secure 10 million dollars to retool and retrain Delaware workers. From the paycheck protection program to enhanced unemployment benefits, we will keep fighting for you.

Murphy: Congress can help older Americans that were affected by the Coronavirus shutdown. There’s two parts. Number one, government must fund unemployment programs that support unemployed older Americans while keeping them safe, extend unemployment benefits, support tele-med and free testing and treatment for Covid, and provide food and housing assistance while they get back on their feet. Number two, for those wishing to return to work, Congress can coordinate with the many wonderful organizations that help seniors find work. In today’s world, where online resumes, Zoom interviews and Google search engines are the new normal, we can impress upon employers that seniors are the most qualified people in the workforce today.

Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. If elected, how will you cut prescription drug prices for all Americans?

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Murphy: We all want to lower drug costs, but at the same time, we want drugs that work. I am for the importation of drugs from Canada and other countries. Also, as a result of Covid, we all know many life saving drugs are manufactured in China. This manufacturing has to come back to the United States. Currently, it's a national security risk. Also, there’s a cozy relationship between Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBM’s) and drug manufacturers. This relationship, or middle money, escalates the cost of prescription drugs and does not allow access to cheaper, generic drugs.

Purcell: I would implement legislation to distribute the cost of research and development globally thus reducing the domestic cost of pricing of medications. I would open up the domestic market to global channels that provide equivalent or superior quality in order to increase the competition and reduce consumer cost. I would increase federal penalties for price gouging and eliminate arbitrary barriers to generic drugs.

Blunt Rochester: Put simply, Americans pay too much for prescription drugs. Sometimes, two, three, sixty times more than other countries. It doesn't make sense, and it's not fair. Why is it that the government can negotiate the price of a plane, but not the price of prescription drugs? I fought hard to pass H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Prices Now Act, and I won’t stop until it becomes law. This law will even the playing field for U.S. consumers by tying the prices of the most costly drugs to prices citizens in other leading economies pay. H.R. 3 would ensure that life-saving drugs are affordable and accessible for our seniors without hampering research and innovation. And for the first time, seniors’ Medicare Part D out of pocket costs would be capped, giving them the financial protections they deserve. It’s a matter of health and justice.

COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

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Blunt Rochester: We know this pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors, and these past few months have underscored the need to not only help strengthen our long-term care community, but to make it easier for Delaware seniors to age in place, something more and more are opting for. That’s why I have been fighting for additional personal protective equipment for care workers, not only in long-term care facilities, but in home and community-based settings as well. Through my work on the Health Subcommittee, I’ve supported flexibility for, and enhancement of tele-medicine, so seniors don’t need to travel miles away for a check-in with their doctor. And I continue to support programs like Meals on Wheels, as food security is a priority during a health pandemic. Ultimately, during our most challenging times, seniors deserve our best.

Murphy: In regards to long-term care for seniors, you know, it’s a real problem, and it’s personal to me. I have two good friends who  have been in a long-term care facility for years. Their funds have run out, and they’re about to be evicted. During this crisis with Covid, we’ve learned that tele-medicine has provided a low-cost means of people connecting to their doctors. I think this should be expanded. We need more competition in Medicare insurers in Delaware. Right now we just have one.

Purcell: I would approve legislation that institutes tax incentives for state-of-the-art indoor air purification systems that actively kill the virus before it spreads. I would be in favor of legislation that implements proactive, random federal inspections of nursing homes to ensure high quality standards are being met. I would be in favor of legislation that increases penalties for Medicare fraud and increases auditing of Medicare payments.

This story is provided by AARP Delaware. Visit the AARP Delaware 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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