As we kicked off You've Earned a Say, our national conversation to ensure that Americans have a voice in the future of Medicare and Social Security, we asked this question: "If you had a moment with the president or a member of Congress, what would you tell them about Medicare and Social Security?"
One man in his 50s replied, "I just want you to protect Social Security and Medicare for my son." A woman in her late 60s who also takes care of her mother told us, "I don't know what would happen to us if we didn't have Social Security and Medicare benefits. It's something that worries me a lot." And a younger mother said, "I have some concerns about the future of Social Security and Medicare. Will these programs be there for my family when they need them most? Will Medicare and Social Security be there for me and my children? What are you doing to protect Medicare and Social Security for current beneficiaries and future generations?"
These comments echo the sentiments we heard at events held March 19 in Denver, Miami, Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va. They also reflect the findings of our recent nationwide survey of adults 18 and over: Approximately eight out of 10 adults believe Medicare and Social Security will be "very important" to people's health and financial security in retirement. All age groups, Democrats, Republicans and independents agree.
On the other hand, our survey found far less confidence in the future viability of Medicare and Social Security. Just one in five adults was "very confident" Medicare and Social Security will be there for them throughout their retirement years.
Washington politicians are not in tune with what the American people say they want. Not surprisingly, our survey found that American adults of all age groups and political persuasions overwhelmingly believe that the politicians in Washington need to spend more time listening to ordinary citizens.
For the great majority of Americans who think Washington isn't listening to them on Medicare and Social Security, AARP wants to provide a way to be heard. That's what You've Earned a Say is all about.
In town hall meetings, community conversations, debates, webcasts and bus tours in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, we'll review the challenges facing the programs and the range of proposed remedies including their impact on current and future beneficiaries.
As important as Social Security and Medicare are to the well-being of millions of Americans and their families, they need to be strengthened. Now is the time to join the conversation.
Attend an event in your area. Go to our special You've Earned a Say website to complete a questionnaire and learn more. Get the facts. Express your views. We'll let you know what we're hearing on our earnedasay.org website and in our publications.
Let's work together to protect today's seniors and keep Social Security and Medicare strong for our kids and grandkids. There can be no better legacy. And remember: You've Earned a Say!
You may also like: Test your Social Security smarts.