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You’ve Earned a Say Listening Sessions Let Residents Voice Concerns

AARP New Mexico is continuing to conduct listening sessions around the state gathering people’s concerns and opinions on Medicare  and Social Security.

See Also: You’ve Earned a Say

Not surprisingly most people say that Social Security plays a vital role in their retirement planning and worry about having to pay higher premiums should changes to Medicare be too drastic and how any changes to Social Security might impact current benefits.

“We started these conversations in March as part of AARP’s You’ve Earned a Say initiative,” said Michael Donnelly, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director for Advocacy. “What we’ve been hearing is that both of these programs play a vital role in helping people have a secure retirement and they have real concerns about what changes Congress might make in its efforts to control costs.”

You’ve Earned a Say is a national year-long conversation AARP is conducting across the country to ensure that Americans have a say in the future of Social Security and Medicare.  AARP believes that these discussions should include the very people such decisions will impact – those people who have paid into these programs over their lifetimes – the people who have earned a right to have their say and be heard.
New Mexico residents are anxiously waiting to see how lawmakers choose to address reining in costs on Medicare and making Social Security more solvent for the future.

During a recent conversation in Las Vegas, NM, Maria Clontz Coca, said any reduction in her benefits would be difficult.

“Even if they take away $25 that’s a lot for me,” Clontz Coca said.

She credited being able to get assistance to get new windows and a heater last winter from keeping her from freezing.

Clontz Coca said she pays a lot in insurance premiums and her budget is very tight making any extras such as home maintenance and upgrades pretty much impossible.  She said she would like to see the country move to a single payer insurance program to help reduce costs because private insurance costs will never decrease.

It seems that all over New Mexico, current beneficiaries are keeping a watchful eye on what changes might occur.
Barney Sugarman, an AARP Drivers Safety Program volunteer in Las Cruces, said, “You can’t mess around with Social Security and not impact the future of people. Social Security is critical to people.

“You and all of us who pay into these programs, we get back what we’ve paid into it, and therefore, the Congress and the President – before they start cutting these programs – they need to hear from us,” Sugarman said.

“My budget is based on what I’m getting now. If there are major changes – what are they going to be and how are they going to impact my monthly budget?” he asked.

John Roberts, also from Las Cruces, said he believes that major changes are needed to keep the programs viable but isn’t sure what those changes will look like.
“I know what it’s like today. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like in the future. They need major changes and we need to get something done,” Roberts said indicating that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Later this summer AARP will begin looking at some of the proposals that lawmakers are discussing as possible ways to solve some of the issues facing Medicare and Social Security. AARP New Mexico will continue conducting listening sessions around the state to gather opinions on those proposals.

Upcoming sessions include:  Albuquerque, June 6 at the Hotel Albuquerque, 800 Rio Grande Blvd., from 9:30 to 11 a.m.; and Santa Fe, July 18, at Hotel Santa Fe, 1501 Paseo de Peralta. Check our events calendar for ongoing sessions as they are scheduled.
If you are unable to attend a session or one is not close to you, individuals – regardless of age – can still share their opinions on Social Security and Medicare by filling out a short questionnaire by visiting You’ve Earned a Say online.You can also complete the questionnaire by telephone by calling 1-888-OUR-AARP.  It will only take a few minutes (there are just six questions) but we hope you will take the time.  We look forward to hearing from you.