Bob SF YEASAcross South Dakota this summer, residents have been making their voices heard on the future of Medicare and Social Security.   From Sioux Falls to Rapid City and Mission to Aberdeen, AARP South Dakota has been holding “You’ve Earned a Say” community conversations, inviting attendees to weigh in on solutions needed to protect and strengthen the health and financial security South Dakotans rely on in their retirement years.

“We’re thrilled so many South Dakotans joined our conversations in 10 communities. People are hungry for information, they feel they’re not getting straight talk from elected officials, and they want to know the real impact potential changes to Medicare and Social Security will have on their livelihoods,” said Erik Nelson, associate state director for advocacy for AARP South Dakota.

In South Dakota, more than 137,000 rely on Medicare for their health care in retirement, and more than 153,000 individuals receive Social Security benefits – 40,000 of them are kept out of poverty thanks to their month check.

“Some in Washington believe cutting benefits is the way to address the long-term challenges facing Medicare and Social Security.  There’s a better way. AARP believes older South Dakotans deserve responsible commonsense solutions, not harmful cuts,” said Nelson.

Potential cuts to either program were a major concern for those who attended this summer’s conversations.  This includes a proposal to change the way cost of living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries are calculated.  Right now, yearly increases are tied to the rate of inflation, and in recent years, beneficiaries received no increases at all.  A proposal to use the chained consumer price index instead, or chained CPI, would result in a $127 billion cut to benefits over 10 years.  A change that would hurt today’s seniors, veterans and the disabled, and the cut would get deeper every year.

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Many also supported proposals to reduce costs in Medicare, including better coordination of care to reduce costly hospital re-admissions.

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These community conversations came on the heels of a statewide tour in 2012, which included stops in every county.  In 2012, more than 8,000 South Dakotans shared their thoughts and concerns either in person at one of those stops, or through a series of online questionnaires.

Here’s a look at what folks told us in 2012:

Of the more than 8,000 respondents to our You’ve Earned a Say Questionnaires,

  • 31% indicated they felt Social Security benefits are not adequate, and
  • 24% said higher paid workers aren’t paying enough into the system
  • 42% said Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs are too high, and
  • 21% said seniors receive more in Medicare benefits than they pay in

 

If you weren’t able to join us at one of our community conversations, you can still weigh in.  Use our calculator to see how much you stand to lose under the chained CPI proposals, or sign petitions to Congress and the White House urging them to find responsible, commonsense solutions to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security and stop harmful cuts to these important programs.   Or call your Senators to leave Social Security out of any budget deal: 1-877-814-7890.

You can also hear what your friends and neighbors are saying! Watch stories from South Dakotans during AARP South Dakota’s 2012 You’ve Earned a Say, 66 County Road Trip.