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Seniors group lauds Chiles on elderly issues

Senior citizens and advocates praised Gov. Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay on Thursday for their record on elderly affairs. They urged a vote for Chiles over his opponent, Jeb Bush.

"We feel pretty disheartened because he hasn't taken any position on anything for seniors at all," Gerald Bale, president of the State Council of Senior Citizens Inc., said of the Republican challenger.

Bush campaign manager Sally Harrell said Bush's commitment to reduce crime and hold down taxes will do more for senior citizens than anything Chiles has done. She said Chiles hurt older Floridians by supporting an increase in the state tax on hospital profits and by signing into law a $1.50-a-day tax on nursing home patients. The hospital tax failed and the nursing home tax later was repealed.

The senior citizens gave Chiles and MacKay good marks for establishing the Department of Elder Affairs, seeking tougher laws on elder abuse, improving services to help older people stay in their homes and avoid nursing homes, and putting more emphasis on Alzheimer's disease.

"They stand in support of elderly in this state," said Wyatt Pope, executive director of the Wakulla County Council of Senior Citizens. "They are aware of those needs."

The State Council of Senior Citizens plans to run radio ads endorsing Chiles.

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