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Where We Stand

A Vote for the Future

Election 2012 determines the future of Medicare and Social Security

On Nov. 6, Americans can go to the polls and elect the next president and a new Congress. For people 50-plus and their families, this election is especially significant because it may well determine the future of Medicare, and most likely Social Security, too.

See also: Know where the candidates stand with AARP Voters' Guide.

I can't remember a campaign when the spotlight on Medicare was any brighter. And this is an important issue that you need to understand. This is not a political statement. AARP is nonpartisan. We don't endorse political parties or candidates. But we are pro-mission. Protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security for the future are the very heart and soul of our mission.

Since we launched You've Earned a Say in March, more than 3.3 million people have joined this national conversation about the future of Medicare and Social Security. One message comes through loud and clear: People 50-plus feel great economic anxiety. Driving this anxiety are concerns about health care and economic security, especially about having Medicare and Social Security benefits available in the future, and having adequate health insurance coverage and the ability to pay for health care.

Throughout AARP's history, we've been fighting for better health care and financial security — fighting to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security for today's beneficiaries and for future retirees. We've consistently said these programs need to be strengthened for the future because of longer life expectancies and rising health care costs, and because other types of retirement income are becoming even more difficult to attain.

Voters also recognize that Medicare and Social Security face financial challenges. And they believe that the next president and the next Congress will need to make adjustments to strengthen these programs. They also believe that Americans who have spent their working lives paying into these programs deserve a voice in this debate. That's why so many people have joined in the You've Earned a Say conversation. And that's why it's important to vote on Nov. 6.

But there's a key Medicare issue we have to deal with now. If Congress doesn't act before Dec. 31, doctors who treat Medicare patients will receive a nearly 30 percent pay cut. This would make it harder for Medicare beneficiaries to see their doctors, and many more patients could experience difficulty in finding doctors who would treat them.

You've been paying into Medicare, and you deserve to be able to see the doctors you trust. To prevent physicians from leaving Medicare, Congress must permanently replace the flawed doctor payment system with a stable one that ensures affordable, quality care. Tell Congress that we need a permanent, bipartisan solution to prevent beneficiaries from losing access to their doctors. Send a message to your elected representatives. Tell them to fix the doctor payment system once and for all.

If you want to make a strong statement about the importance of health care and retirement security, now is the time to make your voice heard. Go to earnedasay.org to learn more about the issues and the candidates' stands. And go to the polls on Nov. 6 and vote. Our future depends on it.

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A look at voter ID requirements. Is it a tool aimed at adding election transparency, or a form of voter discrimination?

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