People under age 50 should also vote for Mark Dayton. This blog will show why he's the best choice for seniors. Later I'll do other blogs that show why he's the best choice for middle aged people, for young people, for minorities and for the disabled.
Here are the questions that the Senior Caucus asked the DFL gubernatorial candidates. After each question is Mark Dayton's answer. You can find the answers from all the candidates at the Senior Caucus website.
Question #1: During your years of public service, what have you done to ease or improve the lives of Minnesota seniors?
Mark Dayton: As U. S. Senator, he led the Minnesota Senior Federation (MSF) drug buses (RX Express) to Canada; he championed seniors in U. S. Senate; he tried for no donut hole in Medicare Part D; he consistently listened to senior concerns; he donated his entire U. S. Senate salary to MSF.
Question #2: What makes you a more politically attractive candidate for Governor to seniors than the other candidates?
Mark Dayton: He is a long-term public servant; he is the only senior in the race; he would use his Lieutenant Governor as champion and ombudsman for senior services; while serving in the U. S. Senate, he set up a health care hotline; he is proposing MN Dept of Aging; he believes in state services offered by professional help.
Question #3: How would you approach the challenge of putting Minnesotans back to work including those seniors who must or want to work?
Mark Dayton: He knows it's a huge challenge with 22,000 unemployed in state; he learned about economic issues and how to solve them when he was Commissioner of Economic Development under Rudy Perpich; he will take a proactive role; he will employ jobs programs; he will provide state bonds for businesses as well as revolving loan programs; he will renovate state buildings for energy savings because that would address the construction unemployment at 50%; he will support cities and locality programs; he will put seniors in administrative positions and boards; he will establish paid internship and mentor programs in schools without penalty for other income for seniors; he will create a Minnesota board for work; he will make Minnesota a beacon for the nation.
Question #4: The current budget crisis is putting many programs that seniors count on at risk. What would you do to address the structural problems in state funding that have led to the budget crisis?
Mark Dayton: He believes it's a revenue crisis, not a budget crisis; believes that the current tax structure is steeply regressive; wants to tax the 10% wealthies so that they pay the same share as the middle class (the rich currently only paying 3/4 of what the middle class pays relative to income); he doesn't just say these things; he means what he says.
Question #5: Would you and how would you as Governor actively support and sign the Minnesota Health Plan (MHP) or an equivalent plan leading to a single payer health care system?
Mark Dayton: He supports MHP and has been its proponent; He voted for single payer in the U. S. Senate; he believes that this country needs health care not insurance; he feels ashamed that United Health Care has made $1 billion in profits per quarter from health insurance.
Question #6: Medicare Balance Billing, which has been proposed in the Minnesota legislature, is of concern to seniors since it would greatly increase out-of-pocket medical expenses. Yet Minnesota physicians are threatening to reject Medicare patients unless balance billing is permitted. How would you resolve this quandary? (Note: balance billing might double out-of-pocket medical expenses for some seniors even under the proposed Federal health care reform.)
Mark Dayton: He doesn't know all the aspects of this issue (but will learn more); he would not support more out-of-pocket expenses for seniors; he believes that Medicare reimbursement is outdated from 1974 measures; he believes Medicare limits payment without regard to patient outcomes; he believes that a national single payer health care system would solve many problems; he will work with other states to address reimbursement.
Question # 7: Abuse of seniors in both domestic and institutional settings is rising. Seniors are attacked physically as well as financially. Seniors are often unnecessarily restrained to cut nursing costs. Financial offerings like long-term care insurance have turned out for many seniors to be an abuse. What would you do to address this abuse?
Mark Dayton: He would use single payer health care to address the issue; he believes that the insurance system is perverse; he will solve the underpayment of workers; he views this problem as a moral issue; He will combine the Department of Commerce with other state agencies which have overlapping responsibilities; he will support local governments; he will apply regulations; he will force insurance companies to pay out more; he will provide for our vulnerable citizens.
Question #8: The recent cuts to General Assistance Medical Care are particularly disturbing since low income adults including seniors ages 50 - 64 depend on GAMC for health care expenses. How could you restore this service as soon as possible?
Mark Dayton: He hopes that the legislature will restore it; he will produce seamless support services without categories; he will raise public awareness; he believes that the current Governor is treating the vulnerable in a criminal fashion.
Question #9: Seniors want to live in their homes, but many factors - taxes, security, upkeep, living expenses, health needs - are driving them out of their homes. Seniors live significantly longer when living in their own homes. What would you do to help seniors stay in their homes?
Mark Dayton: Provide property tax credits as Pawlenty rasied taxes on those least able to pay; expand support services like Meals on Wheels; improve financial affordability for those staying in homes; make Minnesotans aware; raise taxes on those who can easily afford it; provide tax credits for home repairs leading to energy efficiency.
Followup question to #9: What senior support programs would you fund?
Mark Dayton: Establish community action programs and grants to service providers within communities; conservation programs are best; will consider alternative energy programs.
Concluding statement from Mark Dayton: As governor he would provide guidance for legislature and society.