Over the last several months, we have heard from thousands of AARP members in Iowa and throughout the country who have expressed their concerns and fears over the prospect of Congress cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits in order to reduce the nation’s debt. More than 6.5 million signed petitions urging members of Congress not to make these cuts.
This year, to move the debate over these programs from behind closed doors in Washington, AARP is launching a project we’re calling, “You’ve Earned A Say.” Through surveys, local town hall meetings, teletown halls, listening posts, community conversations, coffee gatherings and civic club engagements, bus tours and information forums, AARP Iowa volunteers and members will be engaging with Iowa member and the public to discuss the different proposals that are on the table for Social Security and Medicare, and to make the voices of Iowans heard to protect today’s seniors and keep Medicare and Social Security strong for future generations.
“We’re looking forward to meeting and talking with Iowans to provide straightforward information about Medicare and Social Security proposals that are being debated in Washington and on the campaign trail – the pros and cons – without the political jargon and spin,” said AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern. “Iowans have worked for their Medicare and Social Security and have earned the right to know what changes politicians are putting on the table, and have the chance to make their voices heard,” said Sovern.
Several major community events are planned starting in early May in Cedar Rapids, followed by programs in Des Moines, Davenport and Council Bluffs, plus all points in between. Iowans will have a wide variety of ways to engage and share their opinions, including completing a six-question questionnaire that will be available at all events, as well as through AARP publications, mailings, and via social and traditional media.
“Social Security and Medicare are and will continue to be critical to the economic security of Iowa families,” said Sovern. “We need our leaders to understand the impact these programs have on the quality of life for older Americans and for people with disabilities. They reduce poverty and enable better health, not only for the most vulnerable but also for Iowa’s middle class.”
Test your knowledge of the impact of Social Security and Medicare with these interesting facts:
- Social Security pumps over $625 million in benefits into Iowa’s economy each month. That’s more than $7.5 billion of critical aid each year to Iowa families.
- Many Iowans would have almost no income without Social Security. One in five over the age of 65 relies on Social security for 90% of their income.
- Social Security is a foundation of retirement for the middle class. One in two over the age of 65 depends on Social Security for 50% of their income.
- The average annual Social Security benefit in Iowa is $13,600. 430,700 Iowa seniors – 94.8% – received Social Security in 2010.
- Social Security provides rock-solid benefits for many. Social Security is a safety net for the middle class and a lifeline for thousands more.
- Medicare plays an important role in Iowa’s economy. The Medicare program spent $3.84 billion on health care services for Iowans in 2010.
- Medicare provides peace of mind. Almost all seniors – 99.9% – are enrolled in Medicare. In contrast, nearly 5.4% of 60- to 64-year-olds are uninsured.
- Medicare provides guaranteed health coverage but out-of-pocket costs are high. Iowa beneficiaries spent about $4,800 on out-of-pocket health care costs, consuming more than 18.% of the typical seniors’ income.