Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota


Seniors are a large part of Minnesota's population - and they will represent an even larger share as the Baby Boom generation retires. Our state already has the second longest life expectancy of any state in the country, and the number of seniors in Minnesota is expected to increase by 66 percent in the next twenty years.

Our seniors depend on Social Security and Medicare as a safety net and as their guarantee that they can continue leading their lives with dignity and security. For generations, Social Security has been a stable and secure retirement guarantee for all Americans. It is our nation's most successful domestic program, providing an essential safety net and ensuring a decent retirement for Americans who've worked hard their whole lives. That's why I oppose privatization schemes that would transform Social Security from a guarantee into a gamble, where the big financial companies on Wall Street would be the only sure winners.

I also support a prescription drug benefit for seniors as part of Medicare, though I believe it can be simpler, more customer-friendly and less expensive than the program that Congress adopted in 2003. Unfortunately, the "non-interference" clause in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit expressly prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices from pharmaceutical companies. This prohibition has imposed substantial, and unnecessary, costs on America's taxpayers and seniors, who are paying excessive prices for prescription drugs. With Medicare barred from negotiating discounts, seniors face inflated prices for their medications, while the pharmaceutical industry gets a huge financial windfall. I am fighting to change that so our seniors can have access to their medicines at the lowest possible prices.

As the population of seniors continues to increase, the need for elder care will also grow. A new generation of family members will assume the role of caregivers for their parents by tending to increasingly complicated health and long-term care needs. Minnesota's population over the age of 85 is expected to nearly double between 2000 and 2030. Many rural areas in Minnesota already face this issue because they have larger senior populations. But in the years ahead, suburban counties are likely to be at the center of the aging boom.

We need to make sure that seniors and their adult children have the resources to prepare for their long-term care. In particular, seniors and caregivers need to be educated about the types of available services and how to access these programs. We need to be doing more to help caregivers coordinate the care our seniors need. We also need to support pilot programs to help develop best practices at the local level, so that we can continue to support the nation's care givers.

As Minnesota's U.S. Senator, I have worked to preserve and enhance the health care and retirement programs our seniors depend on, while also helping all families prepare for the demands of an aging population. I've worked hard to:

  • Preserve and strengthen Medicare With harmful cuts looming in Medicare payments to physicians, I cosponsored the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which will avert those payment cuts and institute reforms that will reward doctors and hospitals for delivering high-quality care to our seniors. We were able to pass this important legislation with a large bipartisan majority and override the President's veto.
  • Provide support for seniors who want to stay in their homes. When elderly Americans choose to remain in their own communities, rather than an institution, it is often better for their health and peace of mind and a more cost-effective option for society. I worked with my colleagues to oppose efforts by the Administration to restrict targeted case management services that help seniors obtain the necessary medical and community services to remain in their homes. To increase the use of remote monitoring technology for homebound seniors, I helped introduce the Fostering Independence Through Technology Act, which would encourage the use of remote monitoring technology by home health agencies. I have also supported funding for initiatives like Community Innovations for Aging in Place to improve the quality of life for seniors who want to remain in their communities.
  • Assist families in caring for seniors. Today we are seeing a new phenomenon called the "sandwich generation" - adults who are taking care of their aging parents while also raising their own children. Almost 10 million seniors now need some form of long-term care. That is why I introduced the Americans Giving Care to Elders (AGE) Act to help ease the burdens facing family caregivers. My legislation would establish a federal tax credit to assist with the costs of caring for an aging family member. It would also expand the National Family Caregivers Support Program, which provides education, guidance and support to people taking care of loved ones with long-term care needs.

But there is still much more work to do to ensure that all Americans have safety, dignity and good health in their senior years. As Minnesota's Senator, I will continue working to:

  • Make sure that Medicare is buying the best health care at the best price Under the current system, there are huge and unjustified disparities in the way Medicare pays doctors and hospitals. For example, in 2005, Medicare spent $15,000 for the care of a typical patient in Miami, Florida, but only $7,000 for a patient in Minneapolis. I'm working to reform Medicare so that it pays providers based on quality, not on quantify of services provided, and reduces these unfair payment disparities.
  • Empower Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on behalf of seniors. When the Medicare Part D program was written into law, the army of lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry triumphed over seniors and secured a prohibition against Medicare's ability to negotiate lower prices. I supported the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, but the pharmaceutical industry once again triumphed and stopped Medicare from negotiating the best prices for our seniors. I will continue the fight to give Medicare bargaining power to save money for our seniors and our taxpayers.
  • Allow the reimportation of safe, less expensive prescription medicines from Canada. American seniors pay inflated prices for their prescription drugs. Just to the north, Canadians enjoy inexpensive and safe prescription drugs. I voted for an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act to permit safe importation of prescription drugs. We could not pass this amendment in the Senate, but I will continue fighting for a system that allows the importation of safe, FDA-approved medications from Canada.
  • Stop identity thieves from preying on seniors. Identity thieves often target seniors, invading their privacy exploiting them financially. Today, perpetrators of fraud have found new ways to alter their identities to steal the personal and financial information of innocent victims, including telephone software that misleads called-ID systems that many seniors use to protect their privacy. I am fighting to penalize those who misrepresent their caller IDs to steal the identities or otherwise harm the recipients of these fraudulent calls.
  • Strengthen oversight of the long-term care workforce. Vulnerable seniors can be victimized, physically and financially, even by the people who are supposed to be caring for them. Most long-term care workers adhere to ethical standards that ensure the safety and well-being of their clients. Unfortunately, not all long-term care workers have the interests of seniors in mind. That is why I support the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act to improve authorities' ability to conduct criminal background checks on long-term care workers.

Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main Line: 202-224-3244
Main Fax: 202-228-2186
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Main Line: 612-727-5220
Main Fax: 612-727-5223
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1134 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Main Line: 507-288-5321
Fax: 507-288-2922

121 4th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Main Line: 218-287-2219
Fax: 218-287-2930

Olcott Plaza, Suite 105
820 9th Street North
Virginia, MN 55792
Main Line: 218-741-9690
Fax: 218-741-3692