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An Open Letter to the Presidential Candidates from BPC's Senior Health and Housing Task Force

“The next president will assume leadership of the United States at a time when the country is undergoing a profound demographic transformation. Leading this transformation will be a major expansion of our nation’s senior population.

“The impact that growing numbers of seniors will have on Social Security and our major federal health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, is well known. Less appreciated, however, is the fact that demand for housing that is both affordable and suitable for independent living by the elderly will rise dramatically in the coming years.

“High housing costs already eat into the household budgets of many seniors, forcing some to scrimp on other necessities like food and medicines. Rising demand for affordable homes without a substantial increase in supply will exacerbate these pressures. Without access to affordable housing, care in a nursing home or other institutional setting may be the only option for many lower-income and frail older adults.

“While ensuring a sufficient supply of safe and affordable housing for the elderly will present a major societal challenge, it also provides significant opportunities, particularly if this housing is more tightly linked to health care and supportive services. Bridging the current policy gap between housing and health has the potential to improve health outcomes for seniors, reduce the costs incurred by the health care system, and enable millions of seniors to safely and successfully “age in place” in their own homes and communities. Identifying these opportunities and ensuring they are vigorously pursued through the joint efforts of the public, private, and non-profit sectors is the goal of the Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Health and Housing Task Force, which we co-chair. The task force intends to issue a report with policy recommendations in the spring of 2016.”

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