It’s time to talk politics

Many of us have been told to avoid talking about politics in polite company. Politics, along with money and religion are sensitive topics that can easily result in an argument.

I would argue, however, that talking about politics is essential. Grassroots advocacy — ordinary people talking about change and working for positive change — can have an impact.

In an election year, the power of grassroots advocacy becomes even more evident. Voting, encouraging others to vote and participating in informative discussions about the issues and their impacts on our government (with friends and neighbors or local elected officials) are all advocacy.

This form of advocacy, initiated locally and practiced by citizens like us, holds the key to raising awareness, addressing community issues and effecting change.

In this crucial presidential election year, our grassroots efforts are needed more than ever to ensure our voices are heard and that the issues that matter to us are addressed at the state and federal level.

Advocating for older adults and aging services has become an urgent priority. The 2021 Profile of Older Americans reveals a demographic shift that hasn’t been seen in 100 years. Adults 60 and older will soon outnumber children younger than 10.

This, coupled with the projection that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs will double, accounting for more than half of mandatory federal spending, paints a stark picture. Decisions made about health care funding and regulation affect our lives, our families, our neighbors and our communities.

It’s clear that we, as responsible citizens, need to urgently consider our health care programs and the government’s response to these staggering statistics.

Navigating health care insurance is becoming increasingly complex, thus advocating for it is more challenging. Consumers can purchase health care insurance from the Health Insurance Exchange. Medicare and Medicaid have pioneered value-based care programs, prioritizing quality of care, provider performance and patient experience.

Another trend changing the health care landscape is the increased presence of Medicare Advantage programs. Medicare Advantage, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” is offered to private companies approved by Medicare. MA Plans cover all original Medicare services; some also offer drug, vision, hearing, dental and wellness overage.

From the consumer lens, most eligible Medicare beneficiaries have either traditional Medicare with a supplement or an MA Plan. Ultimately, the federal government is looking at creative ways to care for the number of older adults and preserve the Medicare Trust Fund. There continue to be changes to how these plans offer coverage.

Your letter, email or phone call can help policymakers understand what changes are needed to better serve members in our community.

Another area for advocacy is supporting additional funding for Home and Community-Based Services. Shifts in consumer preference, decreased labor availability and increased care needs will contribute to increased funding needs for these services. When polled, most Americans preferred to stay in their homes. However, the support and services needed to make that a reality are currently insufficient.

With a limited budget and many ways to spend federal dollars, legislators need to hear from constituents that these services should be a priority. Our voices can help them make decisions based on people in the communities they serve.

It often can feel like we are powerless to impact the enormous systems that affect our lives. One pebble, however, can start an avalanche. We can either be victims or we can be change makers.

Let’s engage in the rights that so many have fought for and lost their lives for. Talk politics. Be the change. Vote 2024.