Hands off Medicare!
by Marilyn Pinsky
Oct 20, 2011 | 2035 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Recently, AARP Members from New York called their Congressional representatives or traveled to Washington, D.C., offices to deliver a message to our state’s Congressional representatives: we are not pushovers or line items on a budget sheet.

This is part of a nationwide effort involving hundreds of thousands of AARP members who are saying in unison, “Do not cut Medicare or Social Security as part of the Congressional ‘Supercommittee’ deficit reduction recommendations.”

Addressing our national debt and the debt ceiling is an important issue vital to the welfare of our nation but Congress needs to look at reducing waste and closing tax loopholes that cost the federal government an estimated $1 trillion each year. With the downturn in the economy, lost retirement nest eggs, and rising health care costs, cutting Medicare and Social Security would have a devastating impact on seniors and the middle class.

The Congressional “supercommittee” is considering proposals behind closed doors that would shift health care costs onto seniors and cut our Social Security checks. Our nation’s seniors have spent their lives working for Medicare and Social Security benefits and earned a voice in any discussion about the future of these programs. The current closed door discussions are unfair to seniors and the middle class and we need to raise our voices until they stop threatening Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Proposals include cutting Social Security by $112 billion, which could cost seniors thousands of dollars over their lifetime, and raising the Medicare eligibility age, which would increase out-of-pocket spending for 65 and 66 year olds by an average of $2,000 per year, while increasing premiums for those already in Medicare.

The truth is, cuts to Medicare and Social Security would hurt real people. In New York State alone, there are over 3.2 million Social Security beneficiaries and 2.9 Medicare beneficiaries.

Seniors do not receive lavish benefits from these programs. Half of those aged 65 and older have an annual income of less than $18,500 per year. Today's Medicare beneficiaries already must pay an average of $3,000 each year out of their own pockets for their medical expenses – and their out-of-pocket costs continue to rise every year.

With the downturn in the economy, lost retirement nest eggs, and rising health care costs, cutting Medicare and Social Security would have a devastating impact on so many people who are already struggling to stay afloat. Seniors have spent decades paying into the system and they have earned the peace of mind that comes with being assured that Congress won’t make harmful cuts to the benefits they will need as they age.

Marilyn Pinsky is AARP New York State president.

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