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Medicare: What Does the Future Hold?

Elected leaders in Washington are wrestling with how to reduce the federal deficit – but it now appears that Congress may consider harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of its budget plans.

See Also: Congress Must Prevent Harmful Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

AARP is fighting to stop Congress from making harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The nation’s deficit and long-term debt problem need attention, and AARP supports a balanced approach to meet the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.

But some plans have been put forth that would jeopardize the health of millions of older Americans, including Floridians 50+. In coming months, AARP Florida will reach out to Floridians 50+ to help them understand how they’d be affected and gather their ideas about protecting Medicare.

“Frankly, I’m concerned about the debate so far is about charts, graphs and numbers,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida interim state director. “We sometimes seem to focus more on dollars and cents than health and people. Rather than asking, ‘How can we cut Medicare to balance the federal budget?’, we should be asking, ‘How can we strengthen Medicare for the 21st century while containing costs to keep it affordable?’ “

Johnson noted that some proposals now being discussed would change the guaranteed structure of Medicare, turning it into a system in which older Floridians would buy health coverage from private companies – with a shrinking portion of their health-insurance premium covered by Medicare. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a plan advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, future Medicare beneficiaries would pay twice as much for Medicare premiums and co-insurance after 2020, from about $5,500 per year in 2011 to about $12,500.

Other plans under consideration would establish arbitrary limits on Medicare, dramatically increasing beneficiaries’ costs and threatening their access to care.

“Older Americans have worked their entire lives to qualify for their Medicare and Social Security benefits,” Johnson said. “They’ve paid into the system throughout their working years – and many are still paying into Medicare and Social Security today. They’ve earned peace of mind that Congress won’t make harmful cuts to their Medicare and Social Security benefits.”

Over the summer, AARP Florida plans to reach out to older Floridians through public meetings and “community conversations,” a Tele-Town Hall and information through communications like our e-newsletter, and on AARP Florida’s Facebook page.

Contact your member of Congress or call AARP Florida 1-866-595-7678 to learn more.

AARP has voiced concern that the House plan limits increases in the amount of “premium support” that beneficiaries would receive to no more than the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI). Because health costs usually rise much faster than overall inflation, this provision has the effect of gradually increasing the share of health-care costs that Medicare beneficiaries pay.
According to calculations based on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, the proposal would more than double beneficiary costs in 2022, from about $5,500 to $12,500, according to AARP.
AARP also has voiced concern that the House proposal also suggests gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. AARP also has voiced strong concern that the House plan would reopen the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”, now scheduled to close by 2020 under the new federal health law.
Meanwhile, AARP has voiced concern that proposals by the White House to control the federal deficit could set arbitrary spending targets that could undermine jeopardize Medicare’s promise to provide health coverage to older Americans.
Over the summer, AARP Florida plans to reach out to older Floridians through a public meetings and “community conversations”, a Tele-Town Hall,  and on AARP Florida’s Facebook page.