Times Staff Report
December 6, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, AARP Kentucky staff and volunteer Charlotte Whittaker met with Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Brett Guthrie, Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. John Yarmuth and Rep. Ed Whitfield, or their staffs, 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. 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.”
Across Capitol Hill the volunteers and staff also reiterated AARP’s positions against extending the Social Security payroll tax cut, against the Social Security Cost-of-Living Reduction, and against raising the Medicare eligibility age during fiscal cliff talks.
Reducing the cost-of-living adjustment 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.