By Eric Berger
December 7, 2015 at 5:00 am ET
While we may not always see large numbers of senior citizens at Presidential candidate rallies, that doesn’t mean that campaigns shouldn’t pay very close attention to these important voters. Unfortunately, it seems that may be the case this election cycle and seniors are taking note. A recent poll of American registered voters age 65 and older found that nearly seven in 10 seniors (69 percent) do not think the 2016 Presidential candidates are paying enough attention to issues most important to seniors, including Medicare.
Bring The Vote Home (BTVH), a nationwide initiative that is empowering seniors to fully engage in America’s electoral process, is seeking to change that.
This is especially important for the 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who are homebound due to chronic health conditions or disability, which makes their participation in the electoral process challenging.
According to the BTVH polling data, individual states have room to improve helping seniors cast their vote, with only four in 10 seniors indicating that their state does a good job educating homebound seniors on how to register or obtain an absentee ballot. Knowing this, BTVH has launched a new website which delivers to seniors, disabled Americans, and their healthcare clinicians the resources they need to register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot.
Bring The Vote Home is also working to inform political candidates as they strategize for the coming year by surveying registered senior voters on a wide range of issues, collecting real-time data from thousands of seniors on what they think about the 2016 campaign and other critical issues facing the country, including national security, the economy and access to healthcare.
BTVH conducts custom monthly surveys of registered voters age 65 and older, offering original market research that measures public opinion and senior sentiment on key political and policy issues. The results have been very telling.
For example, a new BTVH poll released in November surveyed more than 2,000 registered senior voters and found broadly held concerns that cut across party lines. More than six in 10 respondents (63 percent) disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as President and more than three-fourths (76%) think the country is seriously on the wrong track.
Respondents were also asked about each of the leading Democratic and Republican candidates individually, but the majority of senior voters do not trust either leading candidate to properly handle seniors’ issues. In fact, 55 percent do not trust Hillary Clinton to handle seniors’ issues while 48 percent do not think Donald Trump is up to the task. It’s not surprising that these thoughts are similar for the Democratic and Republican parties, with 41 percent saying they trust the Democratic Party and 42 percent saying they trust the Republican Party to best handle seniors’ issues.
With rising healthcare costs and premiums increasing for Medicare beneficiaries, it is critically important that elected officials prioritize the needs of our nation’s seniors, who report feeling ignored by the 2016 Presidential candidates.
By visiting BTVH’s website, registering to vote, and applying for absentee ballots in their state, homebound seniors can empower themselves to fully participate in our democracy and ensure that current lawmakers – and those wanting to become lawmakers – pay attention to the issues that matter most to them.
It’s up to all of us – especially family, friends, and the home healthcare community – to help our seniors cast their ballot. As the 2016 general elections draw closer, it is essential that candidates demonstrate their awareness that senior voters are an important part of the electorate. Let’s act now to ensure that seniors’ voices are heard and the issues they care about most are addressed.
Eric Berger is the CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a coalition of the nation’s leading innovators of home healthcare dedicated to improving the integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare.