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Quality of life for seniors is topic for Graves' tour

by Jalana Robinson
Landmark reporter

Congressman Sam Graves met with seniors of Platte County recently as part of a series of meetings focusing on senior issues that he will be holding within the 6th District.

At a meeting in the Hillview Nursing and Rehab in Platte City last week, Graves addressed seniors and spoke on issues such as increasing access to quality health care; helping seniors better prepare for retirement; and improving the quality of life for seniors.

One issue Congressman Graves noted was reforming the Medicare system to better serve seniors. He recognized that most seniors are living within a very strict budget on Social Security and pensions, and that they are sometimes not able to afford prescription drugs they need.

This is why Congressman Graves said he supported a budget resolution that included $153 billion over 10 years in additional Medicare spending to fund a prescription drug benefit.

He also explained that the National Institute of Health is responsible for research that helps find cures for diseases and illnesses. Graves said he voted for a budget that doubles the National Institute of Health budget over a five year period.

Another concern with Medicare was the reduction in payments to home heath care providers by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which caused many seniors to lose their home health care service. Graves said he supported this year's budget that includes a reserve fund of $13.7 billion over 10 years for Medicare home health spending.

"I am committed to finding a better way to provide quality health care, affordable prescription drugs, as well as in-home care for seniors in our communities," said Graves.

In order to safeguard the Social Security for seniors, Graves said he supports the Social Security Guarantee Act of 2001. This gives seniors currently on Social Security benefits a guarantee that their benefits will not be reduced if any changes should occur in the Social Security program.

Graves also co-sponsored the Social Security and Medicare Lockbox Act that passed and will keep any surplus of funds from being raided and used for politicians' projects.

"At the same time, we need to keep our promise to seniors that their Social Security funds will not be spent on anything but Social Security," said Graves.

The Notch Baby Act of 2001 supported by Graves, will increase the level of benefits received by notch babies until they receive equal benefits.

Notch babies are those who were born after 1916 and before 1931 and have lower Social Security benefits than retirees born before and after that time.

At the same time Graves is helping to support legislation to repeal the 1993 Clinton tax on Social Security.

"Our seniors are living longer and are increasingly independent," said Graves. "They want to enjoy their retirement and maintain a good quality of life."

Legislation known as the Long-Term Care and Retirement Act, co-sponsored by Graves, will help assist seniors requiring long-term care facilities.

In order to improve the quality of life for seniors, Graves is a sponsor of The Older Americans Act. This legislation provides nutrition programs such as meals on wheels; employment opportunities; and transportation services.

"It is essential that Congress assist these organizations and programs to insure that they have the resources to continue," said Graves.

After Graves finished speaking with the seniors and answering their questions at Hillview, he toured the facility and gathered first-hand information that will help him reach out to the needs of seniors and keep Congress informed.

He spoke with seniors in Platte City as part of his month-long, district-wide tour.