Senator holds town hall meeting on crucial issue -

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Senior health care is an important issue for Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson.Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson stopped by Courtyard Fountains senior living community Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 16, to talk about senior care in a town hall format in front of 50 people.

The talk was dedicated to providing expertise on how to navigate the senior health care system, as well as provide information and connections to various resources.

“I like hearing what is on the community’s mind,” Monnes Anderson said. “In this setting they are seniors who can’t get out to my normal locations for town hall meetings, so I like to come to them.”

Monnes Anderson is well versed on the issues, as she served as a public health nurse in East Multnomah County for more than 20 years before being elected. She also has connections with Courtyard Fountains, as both her parents were residents.

Panelist also included John Bartholomew of AARP Oregon and Angela Albee and Ashley Carson-Cottingham of the Oregon Department of Human Services. The event was interactive, with the crowd encouraged to ask questions throughout. The crowd also received a few pamphlets of information, including literature from the Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon (ADRC) and Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations.

The first topic they tackled was the need for affordable housing in the region, sharing the ways the state government is working to find solutions to preventing people from being forced into higher levels of care when it’s not needed.

“Oregon has built an extensive program to help seniors stay in their own homes,” Carson-Cottingham said.

Groups like Oregon Project Independence helps those who are not Medicaid eligible find options for keeping their homes, with flexible means for funding accessibility options like ramps and handrails.

“Oregon spends less money on nursing home care than any other state, because we are so focused on keeping people in their own homes,” Monnes Anderson said.

The panel shared positive steps that have been made, though were quick to say there is a lot more that needs to be done. They shared how they were able to generate $10 million for homeless assistance and housing and gave $2 million to the Department of Corrections to assist the mentally ill. The state was also able to increase no-cause eviction notices from 30 to 60 days.

“It’s not as easy if you are 75 years old and renting for 15 years to pick up and move somewhere else,” Albee said.

The other major issue the panel discussed was the price of prescription drugs.

“When someone can go into Canada and get their prescription drugs for far less, that’s not right,” Monnes Anderson said. “We have a task force, and I am hoping we will have concrete things we can do against high costs.”

Bartholomew is on the task force, and the struggle to afford expensive medicine is something he has personal experience with. His wife has multiple sclerosis, and she was on a drug that kept having its costs go up every month. Eventually, the couple decided to switch to a different medication, after the original had jumped from $1,500 a month to $3,000.

“Our co-pays didn’t change, but our insurance kept going up,” Bartholomew said.

After the discussion, many in the audience went up and met with the panel. Monnes Anderson said this is her favorite part of events, as it gives her a chance to hear their stories and adjust her ideas accordingly. She also asked for support in helping to advocate for changes within the senior care system.

“Seniors are extremely important to me,” Monnes Anderson said.

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