Sen. Casey advocates for seniors during Wilkes-Barre stop

By:  Bill Wellock

WILKES-BARRE — Americans have an obligation to advocate for seniors citizens, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said Monday at a conference on aging at Wilkes University.

The next fight on that front will come with the federal government’s 2018 budget, he said. The plan from the U.S. House of Representatives includes cuts to Medicare over the next ten years, as well as cuts to discretionary spending that Casey said could eventually affect initiatives like Meals on Wheels or heating assistance programs.

“We have a lot of fights ahead of us. We have to fight against those kinds of cuts,” he said.

The issue of what to fund and how much to allocate came up again during a panel that included several speakers who each deal with issues that affect seniors.

Mary Roselle, the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming counties; Tim Camus, a deputy inspector general for the U.S. Treasury Department; and Gail Roddie-Hamlin, the president and CEO of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association all had a simple answer when asked what they wanted Sen. Casey to know: They could use more funding for their missions.

That’s the central challenge of the government, and research into Alzheimer’s disease illustrates the challenge, Casey said.

Because of investments into research, Pennsylvania has the potential to be the place where there’s a major breakthrough on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

“But we can’t continue that research on Alzheimer’s or anything else unless we continue to pound the table” for funding, he said.