This post was written by Emily Bohnert, an undergraduate student majoring in both Psychology and Gerontology.
Who is Senator Claire McCaskill?
Claire McCaskill was born in the town of Rolla, Missouri in 1953 where she became involved in politics from a very young age.1 She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where she received her law degree. She began practicing law and followed in her mother’s footsteps by making it acceptable for women to hold positions of power in law and politics. McCaskill’s mother was the first woman to serve on the City Council in Columbia, Missouri.
McCaskill is a family oriented Senator, who often focuses on legislation that will benefit children and grandchildren, as well as older adults. She shows that she truly is family oriented by returning home almost every weekend to visit with her children and grandchildren.
Paving the Way for Women in Politics
Senator McCaskill has a history of “firsts” in politics.1
- First woman legislator in Missouri to have a baby while in office.
- First woman to be elected Prosecutor in Jackson County.
- First woman elected to the US Senate from the state of Missouri.
- Was sworn in as the second female Auditor in the State of Missouri, after Margaret Kelly, in 1999.
- Senator McCaskill challenged and defeated a sitting Governor in a primary election in the state of Missouri. She is the only one to have done this is Missouri history.
What has Senator McCaskill done to help older adults?
Senator McCaskill has a history of advocating for older adults and has worked to pass legislation that benefits them. She served on the Special Committee on Aging for years, working across party lines to benefit older adults. McCaskill is in favor of protecting Medicare for older adults and fights against making Medicare a voucher system. Senator McCaskill argues that if Medicare becomes a voucher system, we will ultimately be hurting our seniors because Medicare will become unaffordable. The voucher system is designed to reduce government involvement in Medicare, but she is concerned that allowing Medicare to compete with private insurance companies will increase the costs of Medicare without government regulation of how much companies can charge. McCaskill fights efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare. She fights against privatizing these services because she believes that hard working older adults deserve to receive the money they had paid into the system throughout their lifetime.
McCaskill also believes it is important to ensure older adults and Medicare are not being taken advantage of by large hospitals and medical equipment industries.3 In order to make Medicare sustainable, McCaskill makes sure that medical equipment companies are not billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment for the older adults. This cause is so important to her that she personally checks in with the hospitals, older adults, and medical equipment companies. She proposed the bill entitled Hospital Payment Fairness Act of 2013. It was designed to ensure that hospital payments through Medicare remain fair. She proposed the same bill again in 2015. Although this bill died in Congress both times without sufficient support from other Senators, it demonstrates how McCaskill is fighting to make Medicare sustainable for older adults.
McCaskill is also an avid supporter of funding research on Alzheimer’s disease.2 In 2016, Senator McCaskill, along with colleagues, held a hearing with the Special Committee on Aging in which they discussed, in length, the importance of continuing to fund Alzheimer’s research. McCaskill stated “We must continue to provide resources and support to help those with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them—however if we don’t also invest more in medical research this disease will bankrupt not only our government but also our families.” She was alluding to the fact that Alzheimer’s is a disease that costs our government approximately 236 billion dollars a year, with about half of that being spent by Medicare and Medicaid.
Senator McCaskill has remained popular with special interest groups for older adults, including the Alliance for Retired Americans. They have given McCaskill a rating based upon how they feel she is doing in office.4 Her ratings for the past five years are as follows:
|Year||Rating in Percentage|
To sum it up, McCaskill is a Senator that has a history of advocating for the protection and benefit of older adults. Along with the information provided, she has also spent time advocating against financial exploitation of older adults, for increased retirement security, advocated for veterans and those experiencing elder abuse, and so much more.