RICHMOND _ as election season shifts into full swing this Labor Day weekend, health and consumer issues are on the minds of voters age 50+ and candidates should take heed, a survey released today by AARP Virginia reveals.
“This survey shows what voters age 50+ will be thinking about when they head to the polls in November, and it’s time the candidates start talking about these issues,” said AARP Virginia State President Bob Blancato.
Health care – particularly Medicaid expansion and the funding of home and community based services -- are top of mind for Virginia voters age 50+. Predatory lending, housing discrimination and utility costs also matter to them, the survey indicates.
Health care appears to be a vital concern for Virginia voters age 50 and older, with nearly two-thirds saying that they believe they or someone they know will need Medicaid coverage in the future. Nearly half say either they or someone they know is extremely or very likely to need Medicaid at some point in the future, and another 17 percent say this need is somewhat likely.
“These survey results indicate that an astonishing number of people feel they or someone they know won’t have health coverage and won’t be able to pay for it,” Blancato said. Medicaid is a federal health program administered by states to provide health coverage to low-income people.
More than half of the respondents – 54 percent – said they support expanding Medicaid coverage to adults without children who earn up to $15,000 per year. Currently, adults without children don’t qualify for the program, regardless of how poor they are.
The voters surveyed said the candidates’ stance on Medicaid expansion will affect how they vote in November. Nearly three times as many say they would be more likely to vote for a state office candidate who would accept the available federal funds so that more low-income Virginians could get health insurance, compared to those who say they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate. Forty-four percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate who will expand Medicaid, while only 16 percent said they would be less likely to support such a candidate.
Nearly everyone polled – 94 percent – said they believe it is important to have services that would help them and their families stay at home as long as possible instead of being cared for in a long-term care facility.
The majority (69%) of Virginia registered voters age 50+ supports dedicating a larger proportion of Medicaid long-term care funds to home and community-based care and a smaller proportion to institutional care.
“Virginians want to be able to stay in their homes as long as possible, and they are going to support candidates who favor shifting funding to cover home and community-based services,” Blancato said.
In Virginia, about 65 percent of Medicaid funds for long-term care are dedicated to nursing homes and about 35 percent are dedicated to services in a patient’s home or in a community setting such as an adult day care center. Approximately seven-in-10 support changing Medicaid long-term care funding so that a larger proportion goes to home and community-based care and a smaller proportion goes to institutional care such as nursing homes.
More than five times as many say they would be more likely (44%) to vote for a state office candidate who supports changing Medicaid long-term care funding so that a larger proportion is dedicated to services in home and community settings. Only 8 percent said would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.
The survey also revealed that Virginia voters age 50+ have strong opinions about housing discrimination, predatory lending and utilities. Other results of the survey of Virginia voters age 50+ include:
- 67 percent said landlords should not be allowed to refuse to rent to people whose main source of income comes from Social Security or vouchers from state or federal government. More than twice as many say they would be more likely (43%) to vote for a state office candidate who supports legislation that would forbid landlords from refusing to rent to people whose main source of income is Social Security or state or federal vouchers compared to those who say they would be less likely (21%) to vote for such a candidate.
- 65 percent said they are opposed to permitting utility companies to make time-of-use rate plans mandatory. Such plans would use newer technology called “smart meters” to track usage and enable utility companies to charge consumers more during peak times. More than half the voters surveyed said they weren’t familiar with smart meters.
- 48 percent support prohibiting lenders of “open-ended” loans from charging interest rates above 36 percent and 58 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a state office candidate who prohibits lenders from charging interest rates above 36 percent on “open-ended” loans.
The research was conducted as a telephone survey among Virginia registered voters age 50 and older. The survey was conducted from June 25 to June 29, 2013. More detailed results of the survey can be viewed on AARP Virginia’s website at www.aarp.org/va.
AARP Virginia’s Twitter handle is @AARPVa and the Facebook page is located at www.facebook.com/aarpvirginia.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP the Magazine, the worlds largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org ; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org .