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Kentucky volunteer helps deliver message to Congress

AARP Kentucky staff and volunteer Charlotte Whittaker met with Senators McConnell and Paul, Representatives Guthrie, Massie, Yarmuth, Whitfield (or their staff) and other key members of Congress involved in the lame duck discussions to avert a so-called “fiscal cliff”.   From across the country, AARP brought key state volunteers and staff together on Capitol Hill to urge high ranking members of Congress not to reduce Social Security or Medicare benefits in any end of year deal. With regard to both Medicare and Medicaid they told members of Congress that simply reducing government expenditures by shifting costs does not lower the cost of health care—it merely shifts the cost to beneficiaries and other payers.

“Kentuckians have spoken and they don’t want our members of Congress or the President to make changes to Social Security or Medicare in any last minute deficit deal,” said Hartford resident and AARP Kentucky volunteer Charlotte Whittaker. With her on Capitol Hill was AARP Kentucky Associate State Director for Advocacy Tihisha Rawlins, who added, “In the long-term we need to strengthen Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, but shifting costs to the older and less fortunate among us is not going to make our communities or our country stronger. Instead, it would erode our economic security at a time when Kentuckians need it the most.”   

Hill Visits 2012

Across Capitol Hill the volunteers and staff also reiterated AARP’s positions against extending the Social Security payroll tax cut, against the Social Security COLA Reduction (Chained CPI), and against raising the Medicare eligibility age during fiscal cliff talks.

Reducing the COLA for Social Security beneficiaries on the table in debt deal discussions, would cut benefits, taking roughly $1.72 billion out of the pockets of Kentuckians Social Security beneficiaries over the next 10 years – and $112 billion for beneficiaries nationwide.

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would leave 76,426 Kentuckians without health coverage (based on current beneficiary data), forcing them into the private insurance market, which is estimated by the Kaiser Family Foundation to cost them an additional $2,200 per year. And, removing the youngest and healthiest older Americans from the Medicare risk pool would increase premiums for those remaining in the program.

AARP has sent a series of letters to Congress and the White House on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in October and November of 2012 with regard to the lame duck session.  Portions of the letters sent and their topics are below:

Medicare and Medicaid:  “Older Americans, across party and regional lines, also have serious concerns about efforts to make major changes to the health care and retirement benefits they have paid into and depend on – especially as part of any rushed, end of year discussions…As Congress debates proposals to change Medicare and Medicaid, it is important to keep in mind that many beneficiaries lack the resources to shoulder additional cost-sharing.”

Social Security – Chained CPI: “Reducing Social Security benefits by moving to a chained consumer price index (CCPI) –estimated to take $112 billion dollars out of the pockets of current and future Social Security beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone – is inappropriate and unwarranted….Social Security is not the cause of our current large budget deficits. In fact, as you know, Social Security is a self-financed, off-budget program and any reduction in Social Security does nothing to address the shortfall in the rest of the federal budget.”

Social Security – Payroll Tax Holiday Extension: “Further extension of the payroll tax holiday would undermine confidence in Social Security and put at risk the program’s dedicated funding stream and the hard-earned benefits of millions of Americans and their families…We must ensure that efforts to promote economic health do not undermine the single most important source of retirement and disability income for millions of workers and their families.”

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