Idaho's 50+ Look to Candidates to Address Tough Issues on Campaign Trail

Jun 22, 2010, 15:25 ET from AARP Idaho

AARP Helps Get Answers in 'Straight-from-the-Members' Voter Guide on Ed. Funding, Tax Exemptions, Campaign Finance Reform & Protecting Living Wills

BOISE, Idaho, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As campaign season heats up in Idaho this summer, the state's most powerful voting group, the 50 plus, have some pressing issues on their mind – and AARP is working to help them get the facts on the candidates' positions.  Today, AARP released its "straight-from-the-members" voter guide questions, which are being posed to candidates for Idaho's Governor and every state legislative seat.  

Based on a statewide email survey of AARP members, the questions focus on Idaho's budget crisis, education funding, tax exemptions, taking big money out of state politics, protecting living wills and tackling the state's doctor shortage (survey can be found here: http://bit.ly/d1bJOh).  This year's voter education effort marks the first time AARP is conducting voter guides for every state race in Idaho.  AARP will have separate voter guides for Congressional races.

"Candidates are asking for your vote, we're urging the public and our members to get the facts on where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to them – this voter guide will help do just that," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.   "These aren't just issues important to the 50 plus voters; they are issues that are top of mind for many Idaho voters."

As part of AARP's statewide voter education effort, the voter guides will contain the candidate's position on the issues right alongside AARP's position.  The voter guides will be circulated on-line and in print to all 180,000 members in Idaho and be available to the public – providing the candidates with their only opportunity to communicate directly with all AARP members in their districts on these issues.  For a district by district breakdown of AARP members click here: http://bit.ly/bJMJWv.  

Nearly 90% of AARP members are registered to vote, with 3 out of every ten voters in Idaho expected to be an AARP member.  Nationally, voters age 50 and older are the largest voting population in Presidential, Congressional, Gubernatorial and state legislative races -- in Idaho the group will likely account for over half of all votes cast.

The candidate questions from AARP's "straight-from-the members" 2010 Idaho Voter Guide and AARP's positions follow (the questions can also be found online - http://bit.ly/aIstjZ):

State Budget: How do you propose to resolve Idaho's worsening state budget problems?

Support or oppose - reducing existing tax exemptions to bring more money into Idaho's general revenue fund.

Support or oppose - restoring funding for critical services for families, children and the elderly.  

Support or oppose - restoring the funding cuts made to education.

AARP position:  Home and community based services are vital to older Idahoans, allowing them to age with independence and dignity in the community, avoiding costly nursing homes, which can be up to five times as expensive.  Crucial health services help families and children access the care they need most. This year, budget cuts impacted all of these areas, including deep reductions to education funding, while tax exemptions cost Idaho roughly twice the amount of money in the state budget each year.  A recent survey of AARP members in Idaho found grave concern and strong opposition to these budget cuts and their impact on the community.  Citing this as top priority issue, AARP members overwhelmingly support tackling Idaho's budget problems in a fair and balanced manner.    

End-of-life rights: What is your position on ensuring health care workers honor patients' living wills, advance directives, or other end-of- life care and instructions?

Support or oppose - repealing Idaho state law that allows all health professionals to refuse to provide end-of-life care and treatment, including refusing to honor living wills and advance directives, to uphold individuals' rights to end of life provisions.

AARP position: Patients should be treated with dignity and respect, and be permitted to refuse medical treatment, regardless of whether the refusal is in the form of an advance directive or living will.  AARP encourages its members and all older Americans to establish living wills and advance directives.  Idaho has a new law, which allows all health care professionals, from doctors to dieticians, to refuse any end-of-life treatment and care that violates their conscience.  AARP members strongly opposed the inclusion of the end-of- life language in the bill before it became law, and overwhelmingly support repealing the law to have the language removed to uphold their rights to have their living wills and advance directives honored.

Taking special interest campaign cash out of Idaho state politics: Where do you stand on limiting the role and influence large campaign contributions have in Idaho politics?

Support or oppose – Requiring candidates to raise the majority of campaign funds from individuals who reside within the candidates' district.

Support or oppose – Limits on contributions to political parties and Political Action Committees.

AARP position:  Public confidence in government is at an all-time low, a recent AARP Idaho survey found 85% of members are not confident in their state lawmakers.  Government officials are viewed as more responsive to the concerns of moneyed special interests than those of the general public. Voting participation is highest among older age groups who are vitally interested in making certain their votes and views are given appropriate consideration.  Idaho has no limits on special interest money donations to state political parties or on contributions to Political Action Committees (PAC), and no requirement for candidates to raise the majority of their funds from individuals in their district.  AARP supports limiting the role special interest money plays in Idaho politics by establishing campaign contribution and PAC limits.

Idaho's doctor shortage: How do you propose we bring more physicians into Idaho, and encourage more to accept patients under Medicare?

AARP position: Access to doctors is critical to quality health care in Idaho.  Idaho has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the nation (ranking 49th).  The limited number of physicians Idaho does have are increasingly not accepting patients who receive Medicare.  It's no stretch to say Idaho has a doctor crisis.  At the Congressional level, AARP is working to ensure doctors are paid an adequate and stable rate under Medicare. At the state level, Idaho needs to attract and retain physicians, and make it easier for older patients on Medicare to receive the care they need.  All Idahoans should have equal access to health care.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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SOURCE AARP Idaho



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