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You’ve Earned A Say in Prime Magazine

Just a few weeks ago, I heard from seniors in Springfield about the importance of Medicare and Social Security. During a community conversation, part of AARP’s You’ve Earned a Say statewide launch, they talked about how to strengthen Medicare and Social Security for generations to come. I heard, firsthand, their views, and different ideas. It was exhilarating.

Listening to you

You’ve Earned a Say is a national conversation about the future of Medicare and Social Security. For me, it will include a journey across the Bay State to facilitate many more discussions among seniors and their families, to gather their thoughts, their opinions. While I look forward to this experience, I was happy to hear from my hometown contingent first.

As Alex Martin, director of the Mayflower Senior Center shared, “Every day, I interact with newly retired seniors who are just getting by with both Medicare and Social Security – even though they have worked hard for their entire lives.” Like AARP, Alex believes we must hear from seniors themselves about these pillars of retirement security as a way to protect both today’s and tomorrow’s retirees.

Bringing the discussion into communities

Yet, for more than a year, the President and Congress have been talking about changes to Medicare and Social Security as part of a budget deal, without any discussion about how these changes would affect you and your family. So, now AARP is taking the debate out from behind the closed doors in Washington, DC, and into communities across country with You’ve Earned a Say.

After all, you’ve earned your benefits by paying into Medicare and Social Security. And, we believe you deserve to know what changes politicians are putting on the table; to make your voice heard.

Your voice matters because Medicare and Social Security are the foundation of income and health security in retirement for most Americans – a role that has become even more important due to the tough economy. In Massachusetts, about a million residents depend on Social Security benefits to help pay the bills every month. And, they count on Medicare to help them afford health care, including guaranteed coverage for doctors, hospitals, and prescription drugs.

Making your voice heard

The next President and Congress could make decisions about the future of Medicare and Social Security that could affect you and your family for years to come.

With that in mind, this dialogue takes on extra meaning in an election year. AARP will be urging the candidates for Congress and the White House to be forthcoming about their plans for Medicare and Social Security. As a voter, you have a right to know their views, so you can make the best decisions when you cast your ballot.

That is why You’ve Earned a Say is so important. Over the next few months in Massachusetts, we will hold community conversations, host tele-town hall meetings to reach tens of thousands of our members by phone, and sponsor webinars for those interested in sharing their views online. Further, we will distribute You’ve Earned a Say questionnaires at scores of public events; you may also complete this questionnaire online – or pick one up at your area senior center.

Yes, AARP is working to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear. Because, when it comes to the future of Medicare and Social Security, you’ve earned a say.

A lifelong Springfield resident, Linda F. Fitzgerald is the volunteer state president of AARP Massachusetts, which serves more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the commonwealth. This editorial appears in the April 2012 edition of PRIME, the monthly mature market magazine.

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