Sen. speaks on issues affecting seniors
Casey recognizes centenarian turning 102 years old
LEWISTOWN — Legislators must continue to prevent cuts in Medicaid and Medicare in an effort to protect seniors, Democratic state Sen. Bob Casey told about 50 visitors to the Lewistown Senior Center Wednesday morning.
Casey, the senior-ranking Democrat on the Special Senate Committee on Aging, spoke with attendees about various issues involving senior citizens.
With a significant number of Pennsylvanians being age 65 or older– about 16 percent — Casey said the issue of Medicaid is especially important.
“A lot of the U.S. gained a great appreciation for Medicaid when it comes to caring for seniors,” he said, adding that “a lot of’ Medicaid funds are spent putting seniors in nursing homes.
Medicare, he said, will also continue to be an issue in the U.S. budget.
Casey said he supports providing assistance to fill the prescription drug coverage gap.
Through the Affordable Care Act, Casey said about $26 billion has been put toward filling the “donut hole” to help seniors pay for prescription medications.
More than 10 million seniors have benefited from these funds, he said. “We need to continue to fill the ‘donut hole . . .we want to keep the numbers growing.”
Casey also discussed a bill that he introduced with Sen. Bernie Sanders, (Vt.-I), to lower the cost of prescription medications by importing them from Canada. “We want tough, tight rules on importing prescription drugs from Canada”
The bill, he said, would allow the importation of “safe, low cost prescriptions” from agencies that were regulated through the Food and Drug Administration.
Casey said affordable medications are necessary so seniors don’t have to choose between paying for their prescriptions or paying their bills.
Casey said the Special Senate Committee on Aging is continuing to push efforts to educate seniors on scam and fraud prevention.
“It’s a complicated, difficult problem. . . any one of us could fall for one of these scams and we need to make sure we’re raising awareness,” he said.
Finally, Casey thanked seniors for their contributions to the nation.
“Many of you served in the military — we can’t express our gratitude enough. You helped build our middle class,” he said. “You have overcome so much in your lives. You have not only succeeded, but you have triumphed and we owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Casey also recognized a Lewistown woman who will be turning 102 on Sept. 15.
The senator presented Melda Leister with a trophy recognizing her for being the oldest participant in the Senior Games, which are coordinated through the Mifflin-Juniata Area Agency on Aging.
“We’re grateful for what you’ve meant to this community,” he said.
Following his stop at the Lewistown Senior Center, Senator Bob Casey made his way to Mifflintown, where he met with local and regional farmers, to discuss the farm bill and its potential effects on the area. Later, Bob Casey also made his way to the Huntingdon County Fair for an appearance.
Following Casey’s talk, a representative from Home Nursing Agency provided seniors with tips on summer safety.
Vanessa Locke, reminded seniors to wear long pants when outside to prevent ticks. “If you do wear shorts, make sure some checks you,” she said.
If ticks are found, Locke advised to allow a professional to remove them and to be tested for Lyme Disease.
Locke reminded seniors to wear insect repellent and to wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Sunglasses, she said, should protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Lock advised attendees to wear light-colored clothing and hats when outside and to be aware of symptoms of heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
She also said it is important to stay hydrated and to rest frequently.