1976 Republican Platform: Older Americans

Older Americans constitute one of our most valuable resources.

Families should be supported in trying to take care of their elderly. Too often government laws and policies contribute to the deterioration of family life. Our tax laws, for example, permit a deduction to the taxpayer who gives a contribution to a charitable institution that might care for an elderly parent, but offer little or no incentive to provide care in the home. If an elderly parent relinquishes certain assets and enters a nursing home, the parent may qualify for full Medicaid coverage, but if parents live with their children, any Supplemental Security Income benefit for which they are eligible may be reduced. Incentives must be written into law to encourage families to care for their older members.

Along with loneliness and ill health, older Americans are deeply threatened by inflation. The costs of the basic necessities of life -- food, shelter, clothing, health care -- have risen so drastically as to reduce the ability of many older persons to subsist with any measure of dignity. In addition to our program for protecting against excessive costs of long-term illness, nothing will be as beneficial to the elderly as the effect of this Platform's proposals on curbing inflation.

The Social Security benefits are of inestimable importance to the well-being and financial peace of mind of most older Americans. We will not let the Social Security system fail. We will work to make the Social Security system actuarially sound. The Social Security program must not be turned into a welfare system, based on need rather than contributions. The cost to employers for Social Security contributions must not be raised to the point where they will be unable to afford contributions to employees' private pension programs. We will work for an increase in the earned income ceiling or its elimination so that, as people live longer, there will not be the present penalty on work. We will also seek to correct those provisions of the system that now discriminate against women and married couples.

Such programs as Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, which provide income exempt from Social Security limitations, should be continued and extended to encourage senior citizens to continue to be active and involved in society. Appropriate domiciliary care programs should be developed to enable senior citizens to receive such care without losing other benefits to which they may be entitled.

We favor the abolition of arbitrary age levels for mandatory retirement.

The Medicare program must be improved to help control inflation in health care costs triggered by present regulations.

Other areas of concern to the elderly that need increased attention are home and outpatient care, adequate transportation, nutrition, day care and homemaker care as an alternative to costly institutional treatment.

A nation should be judged by its ability to help make all the years of life as productive and gainful as possible. This nation still has a job to do.

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