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Voters Want Help Paying the Cost of Long-Term Care

AARP “Election Pulse” Poll Finds Concern among All Ages

With average nursing home costs in the US exceeding $66,000 a year, long-term care is a serious concern for likely voters and will be a consideration in their voting decisions for this mid-term election finds a new poll released today by AARP.

In its latest “Election Watch” poll, 74 percent of the respondents said they are likely to vote for a candidate who supports a shared approach to long-term care where both the government and individuals pay the costs.

AARP Director of Government Relations David Sloane explains, “Roughly half of the respondents (49%) think someone in their immediate family will need long-term care in the near future. It’s no wonder that three-quarters of likely voters want help paying for the care that they or their loved ones will need.”

The long-term care poll is one in a series of nine polls AARP is conducting leading up to Election Day. The polls measure voter interest in the issues AARP members have identified as their most important. The national sample is comprised of 1,500 likely voters age 42 and above.

When it comes to long-term care worries, the poll found very little difference of opinion among the age groups. Younger boomers (ages 42-50) are just as likely as older boomers (ages 51-60) and those ages 61 and above to report they are either likely or very likely to vote for a candidate who supports a shared approach to long-term care.

The poll, which was conducted in early October, found a large number of undecided voters in the final few weeks before the elections. As of October 6, a majority say they have not yet decided which candidates they will vote for in their House of Representatives race (57%) and nearly half are not yet decided in their U.S. Senate race (48%).

What the AARP poll does show is that Americans are narrowly divided between basing their vote for congressional candidates on “bringing home the bacon” to their congressional district (42%) and agreement with the candidate’s position on major national issues (44%).

On the other hand, more say a candidate’s position on one or two key issues (44%) matters most when they vote rather than the personal qualities of the candidates (35%).

The issues really do matter according to Sloane, “Many voters want to learn more about where the candidates stand on issues. Through AARP voter guides, forums and other events, people have the opportunity to ask the candidates challenging questions about issues that will still influence their vote.

AARP is helping educate voters about the candidates’ positions through its voter guides and a unique campaign introduced this fall called “Don’t Vote.” Sloane explains, “By logging on to www.dontvote.com, people in every state can get the information they need to help the nation’s most active voters also become the most informed.”

Sloane concluded, “With federal and state dollars as key funding sources for long-term care, the issues of how to best use those resources to meet people’s needs and how to do so in a way that is affordable to individuals and society as a whole will certainly be important issues in Congress and state legislatures in 2007 and in the years to come. We need to explore additional financing options to pay for long-term care services and change the way we think about and provide these services.”

Next week, AARP’s “Election Watch” will look at another priority, Social Security. Full copies of this week’s and other AARP “Election Watch: Pulse of a Generation” polls, can be accessed at www.aarp.org/research/legis-polit/elections/pulse_2006.html.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50 + educators; and our website, www.aarp.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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