U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Lauren Witzke, and Mark Turley 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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Coons: Social Security is an earned benefit and is essential to our country's generational commitment to fight poverty among senior citizens. As someone who’s already an AARP member myself, I look forward to benefiting from Social Security. Have confidence that I will push hard against President Trump’s efforts to dismantle or defund Social Security and if re-elected I will keep fighting to ensure deficit reduction efforts don’t harm future Social Security beneficiaries. I’ll keep fighting to strengthen Social Security and end any question about the future solvency of the trust fund. Thanks for your support. I look forward to fighting hard for you.

Witzke: Our federal government spends billions in taxpayers dollars every year on waste, fraud and abuse. Everybody knows this. There’s plenty of areas where we can cut spending that doesn’t involve cutting Social Security benefits for our seniors who are rightfully owed Social Security.

Turley: Through a balanced federal budget amendment, I will make sure social security will remain solvent now and for future retirees. The social security fund will not be used for any other reason and benefits will not be cut for any deficit reduction.

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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Witzke: Protecting American seniors’ Medicare by any means is a priority, and there are plenty of other ways we can cut the deficit without leaving our seniors high and dry. America spends 150 billion dollars on illegal aliens every year. If we want to cut the deficit, I would start with those who have no right to be here in the first place. Not by cutting Americans' Social Security benefits at all. Our federal government spends billions in taxpayers dollars every year on waste, fraud, and abuse. There are plenty of areas where we can cut spending that doesn't involve cutting Social Security benefits, which our seniors are rightfully owed.

Coons: I oppose any efforts to cut Medicare benefits. In fact, I support expanding Medicare and I’m a co-sponsor of several bills that will empower Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and would cap out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries. I’m a co-sponsor of the Connect for Health Act, and I’ve supported the expansion of tele-health both during the pandemic and and efforts to make it permanent. 

Turley: Medicare is critical to all our senior citizens and benefits will not be cut. Through partnerships with the health care industry, I will assure seniors they will receive the affordable health care they have earned and deserve.

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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Turley: Unemployment among Americans over 50 is at an increased high level. We must open our country safely and smartly allowing businesses to bring back workers to previous levels. A vaccine and improved therapeutics must be safe and effective prior to reopening the country.

Witzke: I have many plans for economic stimulation. But I’ll talk to you about one which I’ll be unveiling in greater details soon. I want to talk to you about RRI, Retirement Reinvestment Initiative where we give Americans access to up to half of their 401k’s without penalty in order to start their own small business. This will restimulate the economy, create new jobs, and get Americans back to work. Also, putting a hold on foreign guest worker visas and prioritizing American workers for hire will get Americans back to work and at great wages as well…creating new jobs and prioritizing American workers for hire is how we end the unemployment crisis.

Coons: Along with Joe Biden, I look forward to working tirelessly in the Senate to build back a better, stronger economy. Since we're dealing with the greatest recession since The Great Depression, I'll continue to advocate for increased investment in unemployment insurance, in loans and grants to non-profits and small businesses, and investments in the future of infrastructure, in innovation, and in job creation. I have a whole series of bills that would strengthen and make more flexible the unemployment program and that would strengthen and make more accessible higher education and opportunities for innovation.

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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Coons: I’ve co-sponsored a number of important bills in this Congress. Let me mention three. The SPIKE Act which prohibits sudden spikes in the price of medications that are long-established and off-patent. Think of things like insulin, aspirin or epi-pens. The Out-of-Pocket Cap Act which would cap out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries, and the Empower Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act which would empower the federal government through HHS to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. All three are important bills which won’t pass in the current Republican-controlled Senate but if we are successful in taking back the majority I will work tirelessly to get passed in the future Congress.

Witzke: The reason Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world is because the pharmaceutical companies are in the back pocket of our elected officials who have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from big Pharma. These companies lobby our elected officials for contracts to research and to produce drugs with government grants. I would know, I used to work for them. And then they distribute them through government run health care. This system has failed us. It’s time to give the consumer a choice as to who he or she purchased medicine or health insurance from. And that starts by allowing free market competition for the production of drugs and the health insurance market.

Turley: Bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. and the supply chain for prescription drugs and medications will keep the supply steady and reliable assuring competitive pricing. Our Congress has sat by for forty years watching our supply chains from prescription drugs go offshore. I will fight for American made prescription drugs and other medical products keeping prices low and creating jobs for Americans.


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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Witzke: I want Americans afflicted with any illness to have long-term care that is affordable. No longer should the government set the price for insurance to cover medical costs including for long-term care. Instead, you should be able to purchase a health insurance plan that suits your needs and your budget like you would purchase car insurance, for example. The biggest problem is that in the state of Delaware, we only have one provider. Americans needs a choice, and from one of many competitors in the private sector. This will make prices competitive. I’m a strong supporter of a free market health care system.

Turley: As our population ages, baby boomers will require safe and affordable long-term care. Through oversight, we can assure that our long-term care facilities are both safe and affordable. I will hold 12 town hall type meetings throughout the state per year to make sure the items seniors are concerned with never drift out of control and are managed properly. Covid 19 exposed our long term care facilities to many weaknesses on the local and state level. We will assure quality control in the long-term care facilities now and through the future.

Coons: From the beginning of the current pandemic, I’ve been pressing for stronger guidance for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. I've worked hard to provide funding and support for personal protective equipment and and testing supplies for seniors to be able to live more safely and more comfortably. I’ve co-sponsored three different bills I’d like to mention: The Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act, which provides greater funding for infection control in skilled nursing facilities; I’m a co-sponsor of the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, which streamlines the criteria for Medicare coverage in skilled nursing facilities; and I’m a co-sponsor of the Empower Care Act, which reauthorizes resources providing in-home care and community-based settings. There’s a lot more for us to do but please know you are not far from my thoughts and my heart and my work in the U.S. Senate.

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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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