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Aging Department Top Priority for Elderly

October 14, 1995
By: L. MEGHAN HUMPHREYS
State Capital Bureau

Date: October 14, 1995

JEFFERSON CITY _ The organization of Missouri government may seem a boring issue of bureaucracy. But representatives of Missouri's elderly have ranked it as one of the top issues for the state's senior citizens.

Missouri's Silver Haired Legislature, which met Oct. 12 and 13 in the Capitol, is pushing for the state to upgrade the Missouri Division of Aging, now a part of the Missouri Department of Social Services, to a full-fledged Department of Aging.

"We feel like senior citizens should have their own department," said Bill Mallory, senate president pro tem of for the Silver Haired Legislature.

The Silver Haired Legislature meets each fall to adopt proposals of interest to the elderly for the real legislature to consider when it meets three months later.

The Silver Haired Legislature has 120 representatives and 30 senators. Many of the participants are members of other senior citizen advocacy groups such as county divisions of aging.

A second major topic for this year's Silver Haired session was pharmaceutical pricing, Mallory said, due to the rising cost senior citizens are paying for their medications.

"It's gotten out of hand," Mallory said. "Many senior citizens are now going without food so they can pay for their medicine."

In addition to the Department of Aging and medication proposals, the other proposals adopted by the elderly session were:

* Increased funding for home delivery of meals and in-home services to senior citizens.

* Universal health care.

* Mandating that doctors accept Medicare as full payment for medical care.

The senior citizens also passed a resolution to challenge the $270 billion cut to Medicare being considered in Congress.

"We feel it will decimate the program," said Charles Newman, a Silver Haired senator. The senior citizens group is making this view known by sending this resolution on to Missouri's senators and representatives in Washington, D.C.



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