By U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13)
The ability to live with dignity and financial security in your Golden Years is fundamental to the American Dream. Yet, every day, it gets harder and harder for many seniors to stretch their fixed incomes to meet their basic needs with confidence.
For me, these issues are also personal. My 90-year-old brilliant and beautiful mother, Mildred Parish Massey, who passed away last year from COPD complications, remains my inspiration for this important work. As a Member of Congress, I’m dedicated to protecting and expanding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, programs that seniors have paid into over their working lives. These proven programs empower seniors to live healthy retirements with financial stability.
In fact, 60% of seniors rely on Social Security for a majority of their income and one-third rely on it for 90% or more of their income. For many women, especially women of color, these programs are vital lifelines. Unfortunately, these benefits have not kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of living in the Bay Area.
While protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are my top priorities, we can and must do more to ensure the dignity, health and security of older Americans.
As Social Security benefits have declined when compared to inflation, more seniors are living with their sons, daughters and other family members. While these younger family members welcome older family members, it can be a financial hardship.
That’s why I introduced legislation (H.R. 259) to create a tax credit so these families can have a little more money in their wallets at the end of the month. While this is a small step, it will go a long way toward helping families juggling multiple responsibilities.
Additionally, I am committed to investing in research to stop the diseases that disproportionately affect older Americans including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, COPD and diabetes. As we work to tackle these terrible diseases and find cures, we must also find new ways to ensure that long-term care remains accessible and affordable. Another of my bills, the Adult Day Enhancement Act (H.R. 263), would support adult day programs that provide comprehensive and effective care and services to those living with neurological diseases and conditions.
In Congress, I’m dedicated to ensuring dignity and stability for older Americans. I hope that you will join me in my efforts to pass my legislation that will further empower seniors with opportunity, financial security and needed care.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California’s East Bay. She serves as chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.
The opinions expressed in “Congressional Corner” reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of The Senior Citizens League.