News Column

AARP Volunteers: Don't Push Older Americans Off Cliff

Dec. 5, 2012

AARP Pennsylvania volunteers and staff today met with members of the state's Congressional delegation and other key members of Congress involved in the lame duck discussions to avert a so-called "fiscal cliff." The AARP volunteers and staff urged the members of Congress not to reduce Social Security or Medicare benefits in any end of year deal. They also told members of Congress that simply reducing government expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid by shifting costs does not lower the cost of health care--it merely shifts the cost to beneficiaries and other payers.

"Pennsylvanians 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 AARP Pennsylvania State President Jim Palmquist, who attended the meetings. "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 Pennsylvanians need it the most."

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 $5.48 billion out of the pockets of Pennsylvania 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 233,404 Pennsylvanians 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 $2200 per year. Removing the youngest and healthiest older Americans from the Medicare risk pool also 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."



Source: Copyright PRNewswire-USNewswire 2012