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Iowa House candidates discuss issues facing seniors at Coralville forum

BY MADELINE SAVOIE | SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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Four candidates running for the Iowa House of Representatives met Monday to discuss and debate issues, including the possibility of expanding funding for Medicaid.

House District 73 candidates Dick Schwab and Bob Kaufman and House District 77 candidates Sally Stutsman and Steve Sherman took part in a candidate forum sponsored by the Johnson County Task Force on Aging at the Coralville Public Library.

All four candidates were in support of expanding Medicaid funding, keeping the elderly in their homes as long as possible, as well as furthering funding of efforts to decrease hunger in homes.

“We should look at expanding services to keep those in their own homes,” Stutsman, the Democratic candidate for District 77, said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.9 percent of Iowa’s population in 2011 was 65 years of age or over. The percentage nationally is 13.3.

Kaufmann said he fully supports keeping elders living in their own homes as long as possible through home and community-based sources, and he supports this issue because of time he’s spent caring for his grandmother.

While Schwab is in support of expanding services for the elderly, he believes the state can only spend what it receives from taxpayer money and federal funds.

The candidates discussed providing more state funding for the Meals on Wheels program and other hunger-prevention programs.

“Hunger is not a new issue,” Sherman said. “Create more jobs, and there will be fewer hungry children.”

This issue pertains to senior living as well.

Kaufmann said he would be interested in lobbying a senior senator to petition support of federal funding for Meals on Wheels.

The candidates also showed support for an Elder Abuse Law.

“I’m 150 percent supportive of this law,” Kaufmann said.

Despite the general consensus on most issues, some of the candidates had split views on the issue of helmet laws in Iowa.

Though Sherman said his parents made helmet use a priority, he would be against a state helmet law.

“I have a general aversion to the government controlling every aspect of how we live,” he said, and he would take a closer look at any bill madating helmets.

Schwab said he would support a helmet law. He said as a longtime motorcyclist, he always wears his helmet, and he advocates laws for others to wear them as well — even if his “motorcycle buddies” get mad at him.

Stutsman voiced support for a helmet law as well.

“I would support a helmet law especially for children under 18,” she said. “We as a society need to step up.”


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