AARP AARP States Rhode Island Voters

Be the Difference. Vote.

Get Involved

Learn how to help make a difference in November 
by joining other AARP advocacy volunteers working to
collect "Be the Difference. Vote" pledges across Rhode Island.

To volunteer, email John DiTomasso or call him at 401-248-2655.


AARP Rhode Island is gearing up to ask the state’s 50+ population to pledge to vote in November. By now, you may have heard about Be the Difference. Vote. We're asking members to join the effort to emphasize the importance of this year’s election. Volunteers will be popping up at events across the state, asking people to sign the Be the Difference. Vote pledge and to  show up at the polls.

Tactics will include writing letters to the editor and/or meeting with newspaper editorial boards, posting information on their social media networks, assisting in distributing voter guides that show candidate positions on issues important to 50+ Rhode Islanders, monitoring candidate positions on these issues and working with volunteers to collect Be the Difference. Vote. pledge cards at events statewide. Here is our message:

Government is broken. Politicians don’t seek common ground, arguing rather than creating results. But critical issues like Medicare, Social Security and prescription drug costs are all on the line. That’s why your voice matters. Let’s hold politicians accountable by voting this November.

Are you a Rhode Island
Medicare/Social Security Voter?

AARP State Director Kathleen Connell in the September RI Senior Digest

Today in Rhode Island, some 193,000 people over 65 and individuals with disabilities are covered by Medicare for their health care. Nearly 218,000 65 and older are already receiving Social Security. Rhode Islanders earn their benefits through a lifetime of hard work.

I don’t have to tell you how important this is to people who want to age with dignity and confidence. They are around you every day and, as a Senior Digest reader, you may well be one of them.

Thankfully, a deal that was struck with Americans in 1965 – pay into Medicare throughout your working life and you will be guaranteed health benefits when you turn 65 – has held strong for more than half a century.

• Today, some 60 million Americans have access to comprehensive, affordable health care.
• The program provides free health screenings, from mammograms to colonoscopies to prostate cancer exams.
• And in 2006, Congress added coverage for outpatient prescription drugs so Medicare beneficiaries didn’t have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for life-saving medicines.

What many people don’t realize is that Medicare has historically been a more efficient program than private health insurance, with administrative costs of under 2 percent – much less than private plans. But we must not take Medicare for granted.

AARP has led the way in making sure Congress keeps its promise to support and improve this vital program so that millions of older Americans get the health care they need, allowing them to live with dignity and financial security as they age.

Within a few short years, Medicare won’t have the money to pay the full hospital bills of beneficiaries. The financial pressure on the program is immense:

• Health costs continue to climb.
• Critical advances in medical technology are expensive.
• Prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket.

And all of this is happening as the number of enrollees in Medicare is expected to increase more than 20 million by 2030.

This is why we must all hold our elected representatives accountable for enacting policies that will:

• Improve the coordination of patient care
• Lower prescription drug costs
• Reduce hospital readmissions
• Improve the use of technology in patient care

Social Security’s strength over eight decades is a credit to its financing system and the commitment of past congresses and presidents to work cooperatively to secure its financial future. Payments to current and soon-to-retiree beneficiaries are safely on schedule. Still, the prospects are bleaker for the long-term unless national leaders take needed action. Currently, Social Security can pay full benefits for just over 15 years. But if nothing is done to make the program financially sound for the long term, benefits will be cut by about 25 percent in 2034, according to the trustees who oversee Social Security.

Many experts also believe Social Security should be updated to meet changing realities. Life expectancy is increasing, people are having fewer children, and there are more women in the workforce than when the program was created. Policymakers also need to be cognizant that current benefit levels are modest and that people rely heavily on Social Security benefits – even though the retirement landscape has changed, with fewer people having guaranteed pensions.

Surely, keeping Social Security strong and solvent for current and future generations is too important to be lost in the fog of campaign season.

This year, critical issues like Medicare and Social Security – as well as support for family caregivers, and prescription drug costs – are all on the line. That’s why your voice matters.

We need to send a message to candidates in the upcoming election that Rhode Islanders 50 and older will hold them accountable.

You can do so by taking the “Be the Difference. Vote” pledge to vote in November. You can do so online at


Busy Family Caregivers
Have Options To Election Day Voting

PROVIDENCE -- AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell today urged all registered voters to review candidates’ positions on the issues and to cast ballots in the September 12 Rhode Island primary elections.

“The 2018 midterms will be among the most historic elections in a generation,” said Connell.“ All voters are encouraged to participate, and the candidates for office would be wise to reach out to older voters. Age 50-plus Rhode Islanders are among the most reliable voters and are highly engaged in the important issues of our day.”

Registered voters will have the opportunity on September 12 to vote in primary elections that will determine political parties’ candidates for Congress, as well as the parties’ contenders for many local and statewide offices. Nationwide, the balance of power in both houses of Congress, as well as in many state legislatures and governorships, will be decided in the fall’s general elections.

While the most common way to vote is for registered voters to go to their local polling place on Election Day, Connell said that many family caregivers and others who may have difficulty voting on Election Day may be eager to take advantage of other methods of casting a ballot.

“With all that unpaid family caregivers have on their plates each day, it can often be hard for them to get to the polls on Election Day,” said Connell. “If a caregivers’ loved one is voting, it can be even harder, especially if their loved one has mobility issues. When available, alternative methods of casting a ballot are essential to allowing our state’s family caregivers and others to participate in this important election.”

To learn more about Rhode Island  absentee voting ,  early voting and mail voting, visit

This year, AARP has launched “Be the Difference. Vote,” a multifaceted campaign designed to maximize the influence of America’s 50-plus voters. The campaign seeks to get the largest possible turnout of voters age 50-plus to the polls during the ongoing primaries and in the November general election. It will also put front and center issues like Medicare security and family caregiving, along with other topics of particular interest to older voters.

To learn more about “Be the Difference. Vote,” check out to see how to get involved and state informed.




Take the Pledge to Vote!
This year's elections are some of the most
important in our lifetimes. Every vote counts, and
<together, we the people can hold politicians accountable.

AARP_Voter_ Ed_Slogan_Graphic_Treatment_Be_the_ Difference_4.18.18 copy


Medicare Must Be Preserved and Strengthened

En español | Medicare provides affordable health care for 60 million seniors. Hardworking Americans pay into the program their entire working lives and are guaranteed benefits. It’s a deal that must not be broken. Congress  must keep the promise it made a half century ago so the American people may continue to live with dignity and financial security as they age.

That’s why earlier this year AARP successfully fought off drug company attempts to undo the law that closes the Medicare Part D  doughnut hole a year early and lowers drug costs for seniors. AARP has also long opposed legislation that would reduce benefits or shift costs onto consumers, such as turning Medicare into a voucher program in which beneficiaries would receive a set amount of money each year for their health care. Vouchers would dramatically increase health care costs and risks for current and future retirees.

Challenges Ahead

Within eight years, Medicare won’t be able to pay full hospital benefits. Rising health care costs stemming from rapidly increasing prescription drug prices, new technology, and inefficient and uncoordinated care threaten Medicare and the entire health care system. Slowing down the rate of growth in costs is especially crucial for Medicare, as the number of enrollees is expected to increase by more than 20 million between 2018 and 2030.

People and their families must remain at the center of health care in partnership with providers, who must be held accountable for the cost and quality of care.

AARP Guiding Principles

As you consider a candidate, keep in mind AARP’s guiding principles on the Medicare program:

  • Guarantee coverage to older people and people with disabilities, regardless of their incomes or health status.
  • Guarantee affordable benefits that meet the needs of people with Medicare, which means no unaffordable premiums or cost-sharing. It also means exploring ways to expand coverage to important services like dental care and hearing aids.
  • Provide high quality and high value care that is right for each person.
  • Ensure all people with Medicare have access to health care through an array of enough qualified health care providers that are sufficient to meet the needs of beneficiaries.
  • Sustain Medicare for the future by reducing waste and fraud, and ensuring that its resources are spent wisely.
  • Enable Medicare to innovate and collaborate with the broader health care system. This means ensuring that Medicare can keep up with new ideas and technologies, and work with the larger health care system to help improve quality of care.

Take the Pledge to Vote!

This year's elections are some of the most important in our lifetimes. Every vote counts, and together, we the people can hold politicians accountable.

About AARP Rhode Island
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.