As election season continues, local residents are likely to hear discussion of many different issues from all those vying for office. There is a big different between a candidate having a stance on an issue and the law actually being changed to affect community members. However, the discussions and conversations during the election process often set the tone for actual governing down the road. Estate planning issues are often implicated, because taxes are a hot topic every election. Usually there are many elder law issues brought up as well, considering long-term care planning is a common concern that affects millions of residents across the country at any given moment.
However, some observers have noted that there has been a surprising (and disappointing) lack of debate about these senior citizen concerns. A Forbes article this week summarized by noting that elder law issues “are not on the front burner…not on the back burner…not even on the stove” this presidential campaign. As a result, it is difficult to understand where the candidates stand on the issues. A survey was sent to all of the current Republican candidates and to President Obama by fifteen national advocacy groups. Only Newt Gingrich and the President even bothered to respond to the survey questions regarding long-term care. Even then, the responses were very brief, shedding little light on how New York elder law or senior care planning might be changed depending on the outcome of the election.
Former House Speaker Gingrich has been the only candidate offering any specifics about what he’d like to do with issues affecting long-term care. In responding to the survey from the advocacy groups he called for improving senior care by repealing the President’s Affordable Care Act and replacing Medicaid with a federal block grant. He also believes that residents should be able to use certain tax breaks to pay for long-term care insurance. However, Gingrich has also proposed support for a flat tax system, which would end those tax breaks–so there is a bit of contradiction in his pronouncements on the issue.
In the end, however, community members are still in the dark about where most candidates stand on these issues. Our New York elder law attorneys realize that this might be a mistake. Many members of the Baby Boomer generation are now beginning to retire and are thinking seriously about their long-term care needs. These community members are consistent voters, and so it is important for all those running for office to share their thoughts and perspectives on these issues. Hopefully we hear more from those vying for the presidency in the coming weeks and months.
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