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Addressing MN Senior Issues

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Monday, April 18, 2016   

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With Minnesota's aging population expected to double over the next decade, senior advocates are touring the state to talk with residents about their policy priorities.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar's staff and AARP Minnesota are holding a series of Serving Our Seniors meetings this month.

The idea is to discuss issues such as the rising costs of prescription drugs and how to ease the financial burden for people caring for older loved ones. Senator Klobuchar is supporting two bills that would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

"In recent years we've been seeing doubling of certain drugs all over the country," Klobuchar says. "That is creating a problem for seniors, a lot of them are on fixed incomes. In Canada oftentimes the drugs can be half the price."

One of the bills would allow imports from Canadian pharmacies. The pharmaceutical industry opposes the idea, arguing the imported drugs would not be subject to U.S. oversight that protects people from unsafe medications.

The other bill would make generic drugs more readily available. This week the senator's staff will make stops in Austin, Winona, Faribault and Zumbrota. The meetings are free and open to the public.

As Minnesota's aging population continues to grow, advocates say the need for caregivers will rise. On that issue, Sen. Klobuchar introduced a bill to extend up to $6,000 in tax credits for caregivers.

AARP Minnesota volunteer Will Haapala says many times caregivers have jobs in addition to the unpaid hours caring for relatives.

"Because of the high cost of that work they're doing, personal costs to them, and because they are contributing a lot to society and that's often unrecognized," he says. "The current tax credit proposal, I think, is a benefit."

Haapala says the unpaid work that caregivers provide nationwide is worth an estimated $470 billion.



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