Commentary by Janice Ayres: Appointment could haunt Heller

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Perhaps Gov. Brian Sandoval didn't do Dean Heller such a big favor after all, by appointing him to the vacancy left by John Ensign's resignation. History tells is that of the 49 such appointments made thus far, only 14 have won their subsequent regular elections. I believe this can be attributed to the fact that they now must actually vote on issues rather than just make campaign promises. It's now out there for everyone to evaluate.

I also believe that Heller's very vocal support of Congressman Paul Ryan's budget plan hasn't helped his popularity in Nevada, especially when the plan does away with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs as we know it. You have to wonder if it doesn't account for the fact that he is behind in the polls. Politicians forget that seniors stay alert to what is going on in Washington and vote accordingly. They are the largest voting block of our population but are mostly underrated by politicians.

I was encouraged to see that Majority Leader Harry Reid kept the Senate working through the July 4th holiday as there are too many important issues like the debt ceiling to be put off.

The Nevada Supreme Court has now decided as to how the special election will shake out to fill Dean Heller's old District 2 Congressional seat. It's now Kate Marshall vs. Mark Amodei. Amodei supports Congressman Paul Ryan's plan and Marshall does not. So I guess it will come down to how important you feel senior benefits are (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) and vote accordingly.

I don't know why it should, but it still amazes me to see what a small priority is put on benefits for our most vulnerable population. Not just in Washington, D.C., but locally and statewide. The Nevada Rural Counties RSVP Program, whose mission for the past 38 years has been to keep seniors at home and out of costly institutions, has been damaged on all fronts. RSVP lost $400,000 when the Omnibus bill failed, and lost $50,000 when Congress Cut RSVP funding by nearly $13 million. Now the Aging and Disability Services Division just cut RSVP more than $100,000. This is devastating, since in rural Nevada RSVP is "it" for services such as transportation, which undoubtedly will no longer be available. Also, RSVP has other programs such as Respite Care that will be left struggling to survive.

It's hard to understand, when ADSD did quite well in the last Legislative session, especially with our Nevada Senior Corps Association in attendance every day lobbying for more funding for them and to restore programs cuts in the governor's budget such as personal care. Hard to understand.

With the state pushing off long-term care responsibility (institutionalization) to the counties, programs such as RSVP will be needed more than ever, but won't be able to help if more funding isn't forthcoming. And yet RSVP has been keeping seniors at home for around $500 per senior per year, as opposed to $75,000-80,000 per senior per year in an institution. What is wrong with this picture?

Stay tuned!

• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association.


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