During Older Americans Month, It's Time to Celebrate Democrats' Protections for Our Seniors

In May, we celebrate Older Americans Month. As a proud older American and member of the Democratic Party, I wanted to take the time to recognize how honored I am to be a leader in the Party that understands the importance of protecting our generation. While we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of both Medicare and Medicaid and the passage of the Older Americans Act of 1965 this year as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security, there is one party that is working to advance the health and financial security for older Americans instead of taking us back. As we move further into the 2016 election cycle that contrast is becoming even clearer.

President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders for the past 80 years have put laws into place to protect seniors, while rejecting any proposals that would weaken these essential programs. President Obama has made it clear that we need to strengthen these programs.

But it's not just maintaining the institutions already in place, through President Obama's Affordable Care Act seniors have seen added protections. Under his signature law, we benefit from more affordable prescription drugs from, closing of the prescription drug doughnut hole, and we've seen a reduction in hospital readmissions, which is crucial for seniors. While seniors are covered under Medicare, the Affordable Care Act also brought preventive coverage with no cost sharing. Since 2010, more than nine million seniors and people with disabilities have saved over $15 billion on their prescription drugs. Preventive services are key for seniors, and it is estimated that nearly 40 million Medicare recipients took advantage of at least one preventive service in 2014. On top of all of that, the Medicare Trustees estimate that, largely because of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare's solvency will be extended. Contrary to the Republicans' misleading charges, under the Affordable Care Act, we have seen lower premiums and we have strengthened Medicare.

While we still face huge obstacles ensuring that our seniors are prepared for their older years, we are lucky to have leaders in the Democratic Party that understand our value to society. Unfortunately, we have a field of Republican presidential candidates who have been out on the campaign trail, but have yet to reassure older Americans that they'll keep their best interests in mind.

As I have conversations with other older Americans about the upcoming election, the thought of raising the retirement age, privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher system or repealing the Affordable Care Act brings huge concerns. The Republican field largely backs these plans which are a threat to these earned benefits. Planning for retirement is a long and thought-out process. For most of us, we keep tight budgets, and work to make ends meet not knowing how long our savings need to take us. The last thing we need is a Republican President taking away the economic progress that President Obama and Democrats worked so hard for, and undermining these crucial programs.

That's what's at stake in this election. I look forward to working with other older Americans and through the national party to help elect a Democrat as the 45th President of the United States who will look out for our families and our seniors. I think it's important that our older Americans have a fair shot and understand the differences between the candidates on each side, and when it comes down to it, the Democratic Party has their backs now and will continue for another 80 years.