Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Are Seniors Just One Big Block? : Their spokesmen suggest so--but maybe not

September 11, 1993

Older Americans make up the fastest-growing age group and they are far more likely to vote than the general population. So when seniors speak, lawmakers listen.

Because of the way Washington works, it's the established lobbies that are most heard. For seniors, these include the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations and the American Assn. of Retired Persons.

But do older Americans speak with the unified voice that the senior lobbies often represent? Advocacy groups, including the Leadership Council and the 5-million-member National Council of Senior Citizens, painted their members this week as being on the verge of revolt over the prospect of using Medicare limits to help finance health care reform. "Aging organizations may just say 'the hell with it' and fight the entire plan," said an official of the National Council. There was no mistaking the threat. The AARP issued a similar, somewhat milder wait-and-see statement.

Few politicians would knowingly risk voting for anything that would uniformly anger retirees. That's suicide. But how solid is the wall?

Older Americans are acutely aware of the difference that Social Security and Medicare have made in their well-being. But the same people, especially the parents and grandparents among them, may see their children facing lives of lower expectations and greater uncertainty. There are older Americans of every ethnicity, faith and color--they are bound together by age and age alone, not the strongest possible glue.

So the rattling sabers may not be backed up by the forces that the generals claim. Why not ask comfortable retirees if they would pay more for Medicare if it enabled their children to switch jobs without fear of losing health insurance? Or if it improved infant mortality rates?

First we need to see from President Clinton a finished health care plan. Then the trade-offs ought to be included in every discussion. The questions shouldn't be just, "Medicare caps, yes or no?" Older Americans surely know this, but perhaps their lobbyists haven't quite caught up.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|