Guest op-ed from Mike McCarthy, President Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
On July 14, 1965, the Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into law. It responded to the need for community services, evidence-based health promotion, disease prevention programs, civic engagement, and elder justice for senior citizens. America’s seniors require a similar response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans believes that seniors must have relevant and accurate information about preventing and treating the coronavirus. Seniors and retirees are becoming more desperate looking for security and a cure. We should be able to trust President Trump’s pronouncements. However, he repeatedly shows us that we cannot believe his statements.
In another major issue for seniors, it is especially shocking that President Trump would undermine the United States Postal Service. This would lessen seniors’ ability to participate in democracy because due to many seniors decreased mobility, they must be able to vote by mail in the upcoming November general election.
The Congressional House of Representatives has included funding for the U.S. Postal Service in the HEROES Act which is stalled on Mitch McConnell’s plurality in the Senate. Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Senator Grassley have already indicated they will not support the people who make up the U.S. Postal service. This is despite the fact that over 97,000 of our US Postal workers are veterans.
Also, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation that makes it more difficult to vote by mail. State legislators like Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Randy Feenstra all voted to take away the ability of our Secretary of State to send every registered Iowa voter a request for an absentee ballot.
And then, the Iowa Republican majority in the Legislature voted to deny all county auditors the ability to fill in missing information using their own readily available data. Now auditors must contact those voters by phone or email to acquire information they already have. How does this help voters?
As of Monday, July 13, there were 754 deaths from coronavirus in Iowa. Of those deaths, 397 lived in long-term care facilities. 87% of pandemic deaths in Iowa are people 61 years of age and older. In spite of this horrific statistic, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is stalling passage of the HEROES Act. This delay allows long-term care facility owners to postpone making mandated care and service changes that will save lives.
Republicans at both the state and federal level have failed seniors and retirees in implementing the promises of the Older Americans Act. They provide inaccurate health information to people who are terrified of getting sick and who are highly vulnerable to a novel disease. They also make it harder for them to vote and participate in this democracy. And, it seems they are trying to make it impossible to seek justice for negligence and false information.
We don’t need to make it more dangerous and difficult for seniors to navigate this pandemic. Please remember this as you cast your ballot this November. Our lives are on the line.
by Mike McCarthy, President Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
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