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Why the Midterms Matter to the Longevity Market

Stria Staff October 10, 2018
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Q&A with Bob Blancato: Part One
Politics and policy are top-of-mind for many of us, especially during election season. We wanted to understand the impact of today’s political happenings on the longevity market. So we reached out to aging policy expert Robert Blancato to ask a series of questions. For the next four weeks, we’ll share what we learned.

What are the key races we can look to as indicators of the impact the midterms will have on older adults?

The outcome of the midterm in terms of who is in control of which chamber will determine the impact. So, any race that affects leadership in either the House or Senate would be important—especially if there’s a change in the majority party. Races that involve candidates who could become important Committee or Subcommittee chairs also bear close attention.

Also important are races involving the burgeoning progressive movement, which is drawing support from older adults. Overall, the question around key elections in states where the older voter is especially strong is “Will the Democrats win the senior vote for the first time since before 2008?”

We know that the midterms could have real repercussions on the balance of power in Washington. But when it comes to aging-related issues, what is at stake in the midterm elections?

There is obviously a great deal at stake in the midterm elections—from a possible change of majority in the House or Senate or both, to how much of a referendum it is on the Trump Presidency.

Aging-related issues are quite numerous and cross-cutting. A healthy economy benefits all ages, so economic policies and priorities after the midterms bear a close watch. A strong labor market is another important aging issue, and immigration reform—as a labor force issue—might have an impact on the care of an aging America.

On the bigger-ticket aging issues: If the President’s campaign promise not to touch Social Security continues, then it will stay untouched. This crisis does not hit for another 15 years and Congress is not noted for being foresighted.

Medicare could be a dynamic issue—through general expansion (Medicare for All), greater expansion of Medicare Advantage, and/or in the prescription drug space. Changes to Medicare very much depend on the midterm outcome, as do changes to Medicaid. If the midterm results maintain the political status quo, it could lead to efforts to radically change Medicaid, either by converting it to a block grant or by placing per capita limits.

Bob Blancato is the President of Matz Blancato and Associates, the National Coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the Executive Director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. Bob has more than 20 years of service in the US Congressional and Executive branches, including senior staff of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging and an appointment by President Clinton to be Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. More recently, Bob serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of the American Society on Aging and on the National Board of AARP. He also serves on the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.