Published in the July 2011 issue of The Fifty Plus Advocate.
As the temperature heats up this summer, so does the fight to protect Medicare and Social Security. By the beginning of August, we must stop the U.S. Congress from making harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of a deal to pay the nation’s bills.
Let’s not mince words: Right now, Medicare and Social Security are under attack. Congress is considering proposals that would make cuts to both programs, the impact of which could be disastrous for real people – including both future retirees and today’s seniors. Yes, contrary to some claims, these cuts could dramatically increase health care costs for those who are now age 55 and older – threatening their access to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes – and reduce the benefit checks they rely on to pay their bills.
Older Americans have worked their entire lives to earn their Medicare and Social Security benefits. Most believe that changing the rules in the middle of the game is not fair, and that when Congress changes the rules, they will pay more and get less.
About a million Massachusetts residents rely on Medicare. They pay an average of $5,500 annually, out of their own pockets, for medical expenses. And, that number is rising every year. Meanwhile, their Social Security benefits remain modest by any standard, at approximately $14,000 a year.
AARP asks all members of Congress to remember that they are not just negotiating budget numbers on a spread sheet. They are dealing with the lives of real people – our families and loved ones, our friends and neighbors.
Absolutely, Congress needs to make some tough choices to address the country’s large and growing debt. But, AARP believes instead of hurting today’s seniors and future retirees, there are better ways to reduce the deficit. And, it’s all about priorities.
For starters, Congress should cut wasteful government spending. And, it should close tax loopholes as well as special interest tax breaks for companies that make billions of dollars in profits, but pay little or no taxes – before considering harmful cuts to programs that are a lifeline to millions of older Americans.
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