Issues

National Issues
A. Medicare Reform
B. Prescription Drug Costs
C. Universal Healthcare
D. Income Security – Pensions
E. Affordable Housing
F. Social Security

State and Local Issues
A. Property Taxes
B. Prescription Drug Costs
C. Long Term Care / Home Community Based Services
D. Universal Healthcare
E. Affordable Housing
F. Transportation
G. Utilities

 

NATIONAL ISSUES

A. Medicare Reform

Medicare in its current form cannot be sustained and costs must be controlled to allow the program to survive in the future. Mature Voices Minnesota is committed to working to protect Medicare, by working to oppose higher health care costs being shifted to Medicare beneficiaries and attempts to divide Medicare into a two-tier health care system.

We will actively work to:  1) Request Congress, and specifically Minnesota’s Congressional delegates, to develop federal legislation that will assure the financial stability of Medicare without unfairly penalizing the program’s beneficiaries; 2) Oppose arbitrary increases in Medicare co-pays, deductibles, and premiums; 3) Oppose arbitrary reductions in Medicare reimbursement rates to providers that result in significant reduction in choice of providers and/or increase cost shifting; 4) Support non-partisan or bi-partisan efforts to obtain a reasonable and workable resolution to Medicare’s structure and financing that will assure long term solvency; and  5) Oppose all Medicare private contracting efforts.

 

B. Prescription Drug Costs

Americans pay more for prescription drugs than in any other country on the planet.  There are opportunities available right now that, if realized, would bring dramatic fairness to consumers and taxpayers and reign in the inflated cost of prescription drugs in the United States.

Mature Voices Minnesota will work to: 1) Allow the Federal Government to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers, and 2) allow for the importation of prescription drugs by consumers.

 

C. Universal Healthcare

There are currently over 40+ million uninsured Americans. Mature Voices Minnesota will support work towards passage of legislation to enact a single-payer healthcare system for all Americans.

 

D. Income Security – Pensions

Pensions (defined benefit plans) are an important leg of the retirement stool and therefore must be structured in a way that provides stable, on-going retirement income; any risks in those plans must be fully disclosed to plan participants. Promises to employees and retirees must be clearly communicated and kept.

 

 E. Affordable Housing  

Seniors depend on the federal housing assistance voucher program for their housing.  And with many seniors living in poverty, it is essential that that the federal government continues to address this critical housing need Mature Voices Minnesota will:  

1) Actively support Federal legislation to provide federal dollars that preserve and enhance the supply of affordable housing in Minnesota 2) Work with the Minnesota Congressional delegation in fully funding all existing project-based housing, increasing funding available for new affordable housing and increasing tenant based vouchers available to older persons; and 3) work to retain the federal Brooke Amendment that limits the rent of low-income persons living in federally assisted housing to no more than 30% of income 4) Work to change the Section 8 formula to include Cost of Living Adjustments 5) Oppose any efforts to put in place long-range freezes that will limit the growth of affordable housing assistance

 

F. Social Security 

Many conflicting proposals have been made to reform and transform the Social Security System.  Members of Congress and the President have said that reforming the Social Security System is a major national priority Mature Voices Minnesota will take the lead in proposing solutions as well as opposing those ideas that would undermine the integrity of the Social Security system.  Mature Voices Minnesota will actively work to reform, secure and strengthen the integrity of the system beyond the next 50 years.

 

STATE & LOCAL ISSUES

A. Property Taxes

Mature Voices Minnesota supports progressive forms of taxation rather than regressive forms of taxation, which have no relationship to a person’s ability to pay the assessed tax. The present property tax system is a regressive tax, adversely affecting those homeowners who have lived in their homes a long period of time.  Some homeowners are paying up to 40 percent of their income and more on property taxes.  As a result of this method of unlimited taxation many Minnesotans are being driven from their homes, especially the widowed and the elderly. Continued attempts to make the present market value based property tax system into a suitable, adequate and fair system for funding of cities, counties, school districts, and the Metro Council are an impossible task.

Mature Voices Minnesota will actively work to abolish the present regressive market value property tax system of funding cities, counties, school districts and services and work with other individuals and organizations to find a suitable progressive replacement which provides adequate funding for local governments and schools while maintaining fairness to all and that this property tax replacement be developed for consideration by the legislature.

 

B. Prescription Drug Costs                   

The cost of prescription drugs continues to rise at a prohibitive rate, and the discriminatory pricing practices by pharmaceutical companies place the customary retail purchases at a cost disadvantage. 

Mature Voices Minnesota supports legislation that: Will provide significant price relief to the greatest number of people (not just seniors), using little or no taxpayer money. Mature Voices Minnesota also supports the full disclosure of the pricing and structural relationships between Pharmaceutical Business Managers, retailers and manufacturers.

 

C. Long Term Care / Home & Community Based Services

In-home/community based care has become a critically important service in allowing persons with chronic or other medical problems to remain in their homes as long as possible instead of going to a nursing home.  Nursing homes in Minnesota are severely understaffed, and the wages of nursing home staff are far below what they should be.

The Mature Voices Minnesota will actively work with groups like Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging to influence the legislature, the governor, and the Departments of Health and Human Services to: 1) put much more effort and emphasis on changing the funding and orientation toward a system change in long term care and begin to move from primarily nursing home funding toward a more balanced form of long term care; 2) strongly support legislation and policy that would increase the staffing levels and wages of workers in nursing homes home care community based agencies that care for patients; and  3) actively work against any attempts to further weaken or overturn the equal rates in nursing homes law.

 

D. Universal Healthcare

There are currently over 390,000 Minnesotans without healthcare. The Mature Voices Minnesota will support work towards passage of legislation to enact a single-payer healthcare system for all Minnesotans.

 

E. Affordable Housing 

Minnesota has a housing crisis.  On any given night, over 1000 seniors and over 3000 war veterans are homeless in Minnesota.  Moreover, estimates show that the Metropolitan area is on track to be short over 200,000 units of affordable housing by the year 2010.  Currently, over 100,000 low to moderate-income senior renters rely on the Renters Credit, a program that has been threatened in recent history.

The Mature Voices Minnesota will work with other housing advocates, state and local officials, to:  1) assure the resources needed to preserve affordable housing are available and to ask for increases by the legislature; 2) work for the production and building of new affordable housing units for old and young in urban, suburban, and rural areas of our State.

 

F. Transportation 

For many older persons who do not drive a car or cannot afford one, public transportation is as necessary as food, clothing or medical care; and adequate, fixed-route transit provides the only means of access to entertainment and community activities for many older persons and is essential to a sense of personal independence.  The demand for transit and inter-city services by older persons is increasing as older persons remain in their homes longer

Mature Voices Minnesota will: 1) actively work to ensure that transit proposals adopted are cost-effective, community based and support the transportation needs of older persons, the mobility impaired and low income residents of the Region; 2) work to support dedicated public funding for transportation, either from the State Sales Tax on Motor Vehicles or from other sources and insist that an equitable share of any sales tax enacted on motor fuels be used for the support of public transit and Metro Mobility; and we urge a strong commitment from the Governor and Legislature to increase the level of transportation funding and to expand services.

G. Utilities 

Proposed deregulation of the electricity industry has the possibility of raising rates to residential consumers. Large industrial consumers will likely enjoy all the benefits of utility deregulation at the expense of residential and small business customers and several cities and regions are beginning to see their electric rates rise and blackouts increase under deregulation. Deregulation will likely lead to the erosion of conservation and efficiency programs and to increased pollutant emissions from coal fired electricity plants and at the same time energy demand continues to grow and reliability of the electric transmission grid lags behind the need.

 1) Mature Voices Minnesota opposes deregulation of electric and natural gas services in Minnesota; 2) supports legislation to make utility service more affordable and accessible; 3) supports legislation to ensure future energy reliability and supply; and 4) supports investments in energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy sources to meet any future electric generation shortfalls.