I am a senior citizen and I do not think the Longevity Bonus should be revived. It is an expense that Alaska just doesn't need. Instead, Alaska should strengthen the needs-based senior care program.
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The care program provides low-income seniors with an additional $120 per month and helps with prescriptions. To qualify, one has to be 64 or older and have an annual income of $16,133 or less ($21,641 for a couple). There also are property qualifications involved.
Gov. Sarah Palin wants to fully fund senior care at $13 million.
She also wants to reinstate the Longevity Bonus at a cost of $32 million - a total of $45 million for the two programs. Why not fund senior care at $25 million and totally scratch reinstitution of the Longevity Bonus? Then the senior-care payment for needy seniors could be raised to $200 per month.
To me, this would be far preferable to giving seniors who already have $200,000-$300,000 annual incomes a Longevity Bonus. Others have small incomes but hoard a lot of liquid assets that keep them from senior care. The changes I describe would increase help for the needy and at the same time save the state about $20 million, which could be used for other needs.
Let's help the truly needy, but let's not give unneeded help to the greedy.
Allen C. Johnson
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