Senior Healthcare Issues Focus Of Slotkin Roundtable

A roundtable discussion held by 8th District Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin gave community and local agency leaders a chance to share what healthcare issues are most affecting senior citizens.

Slotkin held the event Thursday at Livingston County Catholic Charities and told attendees she was seeking their input to see what could be done to address the various issues at the federal level. Leaders from the Gleaners Shared Harvest Pantry say one of the complaints they often hear from senior clients is the cost of prescription drugs. Slotkin shared her efforts to combat that which includes H.R. 3; legislation she passed that will expand Medicare and allow it to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

It was, however, noted though by the attending leaders of Shared Harvest Pantry that they want to see the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) continue as it has been helpful in supporting seniors that are food insecure.

One of the major concerns to be brought up was the need for affordable housing for low-income seniors. While Slotkin noted that there are plenty of senior living facilities in Livingston County, attendees shared that many of those facilities, if any, do not offer subsidized living options or have stopped accepting Section 8 vouchers. Leaders say there is a need for more access to Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, dollars to bring more affordable housing to the region. That led into discussion about the need for more funding for local senior centers.

Livingston County Health Officer Dianne McCormick says a county-wide millage could increase the ability to provide more senior services and amenities. Speaking at the roundtable McCormick said, “If it gets beyond the Board of Commissioners to the people, we’ve been told through various sources that it most likely will pass. It would be fantastic to see our senior centers all on the same playing field.”

Also brought forward at the roundtable is the need to educate senior citizens about phone scams. Victims of the scams are frequently those that are not surrounded by friends and family as often and are, as a result, more likely to fall prey to scammers because they have no one else to intervene. Isolation among senior citizens was then noted as a growing problem. Also discussed was the “caregiver crisis” with the shortage of direct care workers and the need for higher reimbursement rates.

Slotkin says she plans to consider these issues when determining her office’s appropriations priorities. She encouraged guests to send her appropriations priority letters, preferably before March 1st. (DK)

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