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You’ve Earned a Say

Online Chat: The Future of Medicare and Social Security

Missed the May 23 conversation? Read the transcript

Comment from J. Ferrell: Experts disagree on when to start taking benefits. What is your opinion?

David Certner, AARP: When to best take Social Security often depends on your personal circumstances. Generally, the earlier you take your benefits, the greater the actuarial reduction. So if you can wait to take your benefits, they’ll be higher for the rest of your lifetime. The AARP Social Security Calculator will help estimate your Social Security benefits and show you the best time to claim Social Security.

Comment from Carol Singleton: Why can't Medicare negotiate with drug companies to lower prices on drugs to seniors? Even Canada's prices are lower than ours, on the same products. Not fair!!

David Certner, AARP: Carol, we agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate for lower drug costs. This is especially needed where there is no competition for the brand-name drug. The United States pays the highest drug prices in the world. AARP has supported legislation to allow for the safe importation of lower-priced drugs from Canada and other nations. Doing this would increase competition and lead to lower prices in our country.

Comment from Michael Podufaly: Is there any truth to the rumor that the Medicare Part B premium will double in the next two years without Social Security doubling also?

David Certner, AARP: No. As you may know, the standard Part B premiums — now $99 per month — generally increase every year with the increase in total Part B costs. While we expect the premiums to go up annually, they are generally expected to increase at a few dollars per month, as they have done in the past.

Comment from Kitty Ruderman: Can we prevent Congress from making their threatened cuts to Medicare? We need this program intact.

David Certner, AARP: We agree that Medicare is critical to the health security of older Americans. During the past two years there have been a number of options on the table in budget discussions to reduce Medicare benefits. As part of AARP’s You’ve Earned A Say initiative, we will be working to make sure that people are aware of some of the lead options, as well as provide the pros and cons of different approaches to Medicare changes. We think it’s important that the Congress and the president hear from people like you what these changes may mean to your health security and that of your family. As part of You've Earned a Say, we will be putting out the leading options that have been discussed in Washington — including the pros and cons of each of the options by outside experts who represent different points of view. You can find them online, about both Medicare and Social Security.

Comment from Wendy [via Twitter]: What’s the chance Medicare will collapse within 10 years?

David Certner, AARP: Thanks for the Twitter question. (Remember, you can tweet us a question using the hashtag #askYEAS.) Medicare is but one part of our nation’s health care system that is both costly and inefficient. It is fundamentally important that in order to help Medicare, we first address problems in our entire health care system. Medicare also faces long-term funding challenges, particularly as the number of seniors increase and as health care costs continue to rise faster than inflation. But Medicare is too important to the health care of older Americans to simply “collapse.” Part of the debate we are having today is about what changes we can make to our health care system, as well as what adjustments we can make to Medicare in order to ensure it’s strong for the future and includes changes such as better care coordination, better use of health information technology, and better efforts to weed out waste and fraud. For up-to-date information about what’s happening, please follow me on twitter at @DavidCertner.

Comment from David: Where was AARP on the payroll tax issue?

David Certner, AARP: As you may know, to help stimulate the economy during the past two years, a 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax was temporarily enacted. AARP insisted that Social Security’s funding be made whole, which it has been. We have now clearly stated that in order to protect Social Security for the future, the temporary tax break should expire.

Next: Is AARP endorsing Obama or Romney in election 2012? »

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