Survey: 1 in 3 Seniors Went Without Medical Care Due to High Energy Prices

Ali Meyer | October 10, 2014 | 11:39am EDT
Font Size

(AP File Photo)

( - More than one in three low-income seniors, or 41 percent, has already gone without medical or dental care because of high energy bills, according to a survey included in a newly released report.

And things will only get worse for seniors, says the 60 Plus Association, as states scramble to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon-reduction rules.

The 60 Plus Association's report, titled Energy Bills Challenge America’s Fixed-Income Seniors, cited an Applied Public Policy Research Institute for Study and Evaluation (APPRISE) survey from 2010, which provides “insights into the real-world consequences of high energy costs among America’s senior population."

APPRISE reported several years ago that energy costs are "constraining household budget choices for necessities such as food and limiting access to medical services.”

For example, because of high energy prices, 41 percent of seniors went without medical or dental care, 30 percent of seniors went without food for at least a day, 33 percent did not fill a prescription or took less than their full dose, 22 percent were unable to pay their energy bill because of medical expenses, and 25 percent became sick because their home was too cold.

“They may have not intended to freeze people, but that is what regulation after regulation -- and particularly these new regulations we’re talking about today -- are going to do to the vulnerable in our society. And the most vulnerable in our society today are our seniors,” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said Thursday at the National Press Club, where the 60 Plus Association unveiled its report.

Griffith cited new EPA regulations, including the "Clean Power Plan" (CPP), that will restrict carbon emissions from existing power plants, thus raising the cost of electricity so people will use less of it.

“Under President Obama’s watch, utility rates have skyrocketed for many Americans –- especially our nation’s seniors,” said Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association. “Many seniors are already being forced to decide between spending their fixed incomes on food, heat or medicine, and the President’s newly proposed EPA regulations will only make their dire situation even worse. Energy, like food and housing, is an indispensable necessity of life, and President Obama should be working to help make the situation better instead of adding to seniors’ financial burden.”

“These new regulations to me are callous disregard of the facts and what’s happening out there in real-world America,” Rep. Griffith said. “Now this should not come as a shock, but maybe there’s some misunderstanding in the administration, but I don’t believe there is. I believe that it is a callous disregard and it's full steam ahead no matter what the facts are, no matter what is going to happen to America’s seniors.”

Griffith pointed to Barack Obama's 2008 statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. When he was still a presidential candidate, he said: “When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, you know, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket even regardless of what I say -- whether coal is good or bad because I am capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”

Griffith emphasized the "they" part of Obama's 2008 comment:

They are the electrical power generating companies.  It is going to cost a fortune, and today’s study is going to show you just a part of what they have been doing in this Administration, but it’s going to cost a fortune for they, the power companies, to shift gears on a dime, to quickly move in a direction that doesn’t make sense for America. They will then pass that money on to consumers. Who are these consumers? Who was the president thinking of when he said, ‘They will pass that money on to consumers,’?

“It’s every American family," Griffith said. "It’s the middle class family that’s just getting started. And particularly the consumers of electricity and other power sources are going to be the seniors in the United States who are on a fixed income -- a fixed income that doesn’t go up as fast as the rate of inflation; a fixed income that doesn’t go up nearly as fast as our power bills have been going up, even before the new regulations proposed by the EPA.

"And so I submit to you, when the president said, ‘they will pass that money on to consumers,’ it was a callous disregard for whom those consumers are.”

mrc merch