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AARP National Board Member Fernando Torres-Gil reminded people to use their voices in the debate over the future of Social Security and Medicare especially in the most powerful arena – the voting booth. Torres-Gil’s comments came during a keynote address at the 34th Annual Conference on Aging Aug. 21 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

He reminded people that both programs had been around so long that we have forgotten what it was like before these programs existed.

“My generation has not done a good job of educating our children on that history,” Torres-Gil said. “There was a time when there was no safety net, no Social Security, no Medicare, no disability services. Before these programs, 70 percent or more of seniors without a family were automatically poor. Today seniors have a 12 percent poverty rate.”

He said the upcoming election will be historical because these programs will have to be addressed by whoever wins the White House and takes control of Congress.
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