Q: What's next on the AARP advocacy agenda?
A: We base our advocacy agenda on what we learn from reaching out through our publications, website, call center, and member communications, as well as through polling and focus groups. Right now we're closely monitoring how health care reform is being implemented at the state and federal levels. Our advocacy priorities include strengthening Social Security and ensuring that Social Security benefits aren't cut to reduce the deficit, protecting Americans 50 and up from utility rate increases, lowering prescription-drug costs, making sure older Americans can find doctors to treat them, expanding job opportunities for older workers, and combating age discrimination.
Q: Will I lose my Medicare Advantage benefits because of health care reform?
A: The new law reduces the subsidies Medicare was paying to private insurance companies to treat Medicare Advantage patients. These extra payments drove up Medicare premiums. We don't know how insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans will react to the changes, although many experts think some companies may reduce extra benefits—such as vision insurance—or raise their premiums or co-payments.
Insurance companies are prohibited by law from taking away guaranteed benefits such as doctor visits and hospital care. Your plan will send you a letter in October advising you of any changes. If you have questions, call your plan or 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
Q: Why does AARP need 53 local offices?
A: Ten years ago AARP had offices in only a handful of states. To develop stronger relationships with members, we had to make a difference in your communities. Now with offices in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we're increasing advocacy, education, and community service. For example, last year AARP's state-level efforts protected some 600,000 Tampa-area residents from a $90 million proposed electricity rate hike. And AARP helped hundreds of thousands more by expanding energy-bill assistance in Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Utah. For news about your state go to aarp.org/states.