HOT SPRINGS, AR (News release) - Former small business owner and Democratic nominee for governor, Mike Ross, today announced a series of priorities he will pursue as governor designed to support, protect and empower seniors in Arkansas. Ross said his “Seniors Bill of Rights” will focus on empowering seniors to live longer, healthier and more independent lives and will help guide his work to improve long-term care services and choices for seniors in Arkansas. Ross, originally of Prescott who now resides in Little Rock, is a former state senator and U.S. Congressman.
“Every Arkansan should have the opportunity to retire with dignity, and my ‘Seniors Bill of Rights’ will help guide my administration’s efforts to protect and empower Arkansas’s aging population,” said Ross. “Right now, Arkansas ranks 40th in the nation in long-term services and support systems that help older people, adults with disabilities and family caregivers. The seven priorities outlined in my “Seniors Bill of Rights” will focus my administration’s work empowering seniors to live longer, healthier and more independent lives and on improving long-term care services in the state.”
Ross’ “Seniors Bill of Rights” includes seven priorities:
- Right to affordable health insurance. Mike Ross will protect Medicaid, especially the state’s bipartisan Medicaid private option. As of June 30, 2014, 35 percent of those enrolled in the private option are older than 45 and more than 1 in 7 are older than 55.
- Right to be heard. Mike Ross will designate a “Chief Seniors Advocate” in the governor’s office who will serve as the key advisor on senior issues and who will be the chief and direct liaison between the governor’s office and state agencies and organizations that deal with aging issues.
- Right to equal opportunities in the workplace. Mike Ross will encourage the hiring of older Arkansans and help employers eliminate age discrimination in the workplace. Nearly 66% of Arkansans say based on what they have seen or experienced that people 50 and older face age discrimination in the workplace. And, nearly 1 in 4 Arkansans reported they or someone they know has been the victim of age discrimination.
- Right to food security. Mike Ross will work with state and federal agencies, legislators and nonprofit organizations to tackle senior hunger in Arkansas head on. Arkansas has the highest percentage of seniors who are at risk of hunger in the United States, and levels of food insecurity among Arkansans over 60 have increased since 2013. Currently, about 40 percent of Arkansans aged 60 or older are living with food insecurity.
- Right to accessibility. Mike Ross will create an “easy access” online portal for seniors and adults with disabilities and the caregivers that support them. This will be an easily accessible “one stop online shop” for all senior-related issues and services in the state of Arkansas.
- Right to be free from exploitation. Mike Ross will work with the Attorney General to support and find ways to strengthen Arkansas’s ongoing efforts to educate and protect seniors against schemes, identify theft and fraudulent scams that target them.
- Right to quality long-term services and independent choices. Mike Ross will work to improve Arkansas’s long-term care services for seniors in Arkansas and better empower them to make their own retirement and long-term care decisions. According to a recent study by the AARP, Arkansas ranks 40th overall in the nation for long-term services and support for older people, adults with disabilities and family caregivers.
“Throughout my time in public service, I have consistently stood up for Arkansas’s seniors, including fighting against attempts by those in Congress to privatize Social Security and Medicare. My opponent, Congressman Hutchinson, supports privatizing Social Security and has voted against increased investments that support the elderly. It’s just more proof that Congressman Hutchinson is out of touch with families and seniors in Arkansas,” said Ross. “As governor, I will stand up for our seniors and my door will always be open to groups like the AARP. We must work in a bipartisan way to improve the quality of life for Arkansas’s aging population as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, and I’m committed to doing so as our next governor.”
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