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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Beginning Older Americans Month

July 18, 2015
Debbie's Blog

This has been an intense week. Issues I care about deeply have been front and center...and perhaps one of the most important votes of my career has been framed.

It started with the once-in-a-decade White House Conference on Aging last Monday, which President Obama convened for leaders from across the country to come together to talk about issues facing Americans as they plan for retirement, care for older loved ones, and work to improve our quality of life as we age. 

The conference was a moment to reflect and celebrate some critical programs – the Older Americans Act celebrated its 50th anniversary this past Tuesday, Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 later this month, and Social Security turns 80 in August – but it is also a time to look forward to the upcoming challenges we face.

Nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day -- more than a quarter million each month. We all have a responsibility to build on the progress that has been made and to work to ensure we safeguard retirement security for every American. This is a real and serious challenge.

On Tuesday, we held a press conference with the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare to call for Medicare to cover hearings aids. Legislation I introduced, my first as a member of Congress, would allow Medicare to cover hearing aids for those 65 and older, which it currently does not. A study the National Committee released the same day indicated that more than 70% of Americans age 65-84 who need a hearing aid do not have one; many times because they cannot afford one. 

No one should feel isolated, confused or shutout from the world around them because they cannot afford the treatment they need. Studies also indicate that hearing loss leads to early dementia and Alzheimer's. Investing in prevention can save costs. This bill is just one piece of the puzzle to bring our fragmented and unnavigable health care system into the 21st century to better serve seniors and families.

Tuesday morning, President Obama announced that negotiators had reached a deal with the P5+1 group of world powers - the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia + Germany to limit Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting sanctions. This is a very complicated subject and one that greatly concerns me. I do believe it will be one of the most important votes I cast in my career and I am going to study this issue very, very carefully before making any decisions. I attended several briefings already this week including one by Vice President Biden. I welcome your thoughts.

Senseless violent deaths continue with a young man being shot to death in Ypsilanti at a block party Monday night, and horrible shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a military recruiting center and a Navy Operational Support Center. Five senseless deaths...my prayers are with all of their families. I joined hundreds of young people in Ypsilanti today for a Stop the Violence march...I was heartened by the turnout and the level of community caring...this violence is something that as a community and nation we must be unified in fighting.
 
Ford gave us good news this week that they are putting production of the Lincoln Continental at the Flat Rock plant, supporting and growing jobs in Michigan and the 12th District. But I remain very concerned about how we fight to ensure we keep small car production in this country, and that we keep jobs at the Wayne plant as well.
 
We hosted a very successful Veterans Fair with Rep. Tim Walberg on Friday and met many wonderful veterans. We have a responsibility to ensure we protect the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms. Thank you to everyone that helped make that a success.
 
With so much happening, legislation continued to move but at a slow pace. The House considered a bill to extend the Highway Trust Fund for six months, kicking the can down the road on a long-term extension. We cannot keep doing this in a piecemeal manner. We need a six year – not six month – extension of the Highway Trust Fund if we’re going to remain economically competitive. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get this done.
 
Intense times...but then you get home, sit by the river, see friends, visit at festivals and you know we live in the greatest country in the world and we need to appreciate everything we have. I am proud to be an American...

If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.
 
And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.
 
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,
across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,
 
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,
Well, there's pride in every American heart,
and it's time to stand and say:
 
I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the USA.