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AARP Blitzes Capitol Hill

Hundreds of members press Congress to protect Medicare and Social Security from budget-cutters

"You represent millions of people!" he said before sending the red-shirted volunteers fanning out across Capitol Hill, delivering letters and leaflets to various congressional offices, making sure their representatives knew their sentiments.

"Today, our members reminded Congress that they are more than just numbers in a budget," said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president. "Congress needs to understand that seniors have worked hard and paid into the system their whole lives in order to have secure health coverage and retirement income they can count on."

That's what worries Eunice and Paul Naugle, both of Linwood, Pa., who came to Washington to lobby. "We are here because of the Social Security and Medicare," Eunice Naugle, 72, said. "We don't want them to touch it. Leave it alone."

She said she is worried that she and her husband, Paul Naugle, 72, will not be able to afford medical care if Medicare is reduced or changed, or if doctors stop taking Medicare patients if their reimbursements are reduced.

Paul Naugle, a retired mechanic, said he has Crohn's disease and high blood pressure and requires medication and frequent doctor visits.

Reactions to the group's effort varied from office to office. A staffer in one congresswoman's office touted the representative's membership in the "senior caucus" and expressed sympathy for the AARP group. A staff member in another office took the literature and said he would "pass it to the appropriate LA [legislative assistant]."

Undeterred, the group moved on down the hallway. They had more members of Congress to see.

Also of interest: Latinos rely on Social Security. >>

Elaine S. Povich is a prize-winning Washington journalist.

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