>>The DFL Senior Caucus interviews Mark Dayton

The Senior Caucus interviewed gubernatorial candidates on December 12, 2009, with regard to their record on senior issues and what they would do for Minnesota seniors if elected.  The following are Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Dayton’s responses:

During you years of public service what have you done to ease or improve the lives of Minnesota seniors?

Mark Dayton: Led Minnesota Senior Federation(MSF) drug buses (RX Express) to Canada; championed seniors in US Senate; tried for no donut hole in Medicare Part D; listened to senior concerns; gave US Senate salary to MSF.

What makes you a more politically attractive candidate for Governor to seniors than the other candidates?

Mark Dayton: Am long-term public servant; am the only senior in race; would use Lieutenant Governor as champion and ombudsman for senior services; have set up health care hotline; proposing MN Dept of Aging; believe in state services offered by professional help.

How would you approach the challenge of putting Minnesotans back to work including those seniors who must or want to work?

Mark Dayton: Know it’s a huge challenge with 220,000 unemployed in state; learned economic issues as Commissioner of Economic Development under Rudy Perpich; take proactive role; employ jobs programs; provide state bonds for business and revolving loan programs; renovate state buildings for energy savings as that would address the construction unemployment at 50%; support cities and locality programs; put seniors on administration and boards; establish paid internship and mentor programs in schools without penalty for other income for seniors; create a Minnesota board for work; make Minnesota a beacon for nation.

The current budget crisis is putting many programs that seniors count on at risk.  What would you do to address the structural problems in state funding that have led to the budget crisis?

Mark Dayton: Believe it’s a revenue crisis, not budget crisis; believe current tax structure steeply regressive; tax the ten percent wealthiest so that they pay same share as middle class (rich paying only 3/4 of what the middle class pays relative to income); mean what you say.

Followup question: Wealthiest hide income through business, how to address.?.

Believe solution depends on how business is incorporated and the rules governing business structure; need to make rules fair so that small business can maintain necessary funds; support small business.

Would you and how would you as Governor actively support and sign the Minnesota Health Plan (MHP) or an equivalent plan leading to a single payer health care system?

Mark Dayton: Support MHP and have been proponent; voted for single payer in US Senate; believe country needs health care not insurance; ashamed that United Health Care has made $1 Billion in profits per quarter from health insurance.

Medicare Balance Billing, which has been proposed in the Minnesota legislature, is of concern to seniors since it would greatly increase out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Yet, Minnesota physicians are threatening to reject Medicare patients unless balance billing is permitted. How would you resolve this quandary? {Editor’s note: Balance billing might double out-of-pocket medical expenses for some seniors even under the proposed Federal health care reform.}

Mark Dayton: Doesn’t know all aspects of issue; wouldn’t support more out-of-pocket for seniors; believes Medicare reimbursement is outdated, from 1974 measures, believes Medicare limits payment without regard to patient outcomes; believes a national single payer would solve; work with other states to address reimbursement.

Abuse of seniors in both domestic and institutional settings is rising. Seniors are attacked physically as well as financially. Seniors are often unnecessarily restrained to cut nursing costs.  Financial offerings like long-term care insurance have turned out for many seniors to be an abuse. What would you do to address this abuse?

Mark Dayton: Use single payer health care; believe insurance system is perverse; solve underpayment of workers; view problem as a morale issue; combine Department of Commerce with others have overlapping responsibility; support local governments; apply regulations; force insurance to payout more; provide for our vulnerable citizens.

The recent cuts to General Assistance Medical Care are particularly disturbing since low income adults including seniors 50 to 64 depend on GAMC for health care expenses.  How could you restore this service as soon as possible?

Dayton: Hope legislature will restore; produce seamless support services without categories; raise awareness with public; explain that current Governor is treating the vulnerable in a criminal fashion.

Seniors want to live in their homes, but many factors – taxes, security, upkeep, living expenses, health needs – are driving them out.  Seniors live significantly longer if at home.  What would you do to help seniors stay in their homes?

Mark Dayton: Provide property tax credits as Pawlenty raised taxes on those least able to pay; expand support services like meals on wheels; improve financial affordability for those staying in homes; make Minnesotans aware; raise taxes on those who can easily afford; provide tax credits for home repairs leading to energy efficiency.
Followup question: What senior support programs would you fund? Establish community action programs and grants to service providers within communities; believe conservation programs best; consider alternative energy programs.

Concluding Statements (as time permitted):

Mark Dayton: As Governor would provide guidance for legislature and socie

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