State AARP official urges Iowans to speak out against cuts in benefits
October 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson
The Associate Director for the AARP in Iowa was in Council Bluffs earlier this week, and will be in Sioux City next week. Anthony Carroll is urging residents to call Iowa’s members of Congress, in hopes they will influence the “Supercommittee” members in Washington, D-C, who are considering proposals for cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits. He told KJAN News the “Supercommittee” has to come up with 1.2-trillion dollars in budget cuts. Carroll says everything is on the table, including Social Security and Medicare benefits.
He says it’s important to make your voice heard, because once the final proposal is presented, it can‘t be changed. He says the proposal must be completed by November 23rd, so the time to get involved in the process, is now. Carroll says since the “Supercommittee” meetings are taking place behind closed doors, it’s difficult to know what’s being discussed, but there are some parts of the proposal which are in place that would affect those persons over 50. One pertains to Social Security.
For instance, he says the organization is concerned about a proposal to “chain” the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, which is being adjusted upward in January, for the first time in three-years. That’s because the formula used over the past two-years for figuring the amount was based on data showing a lack of inflation, and therefore no need to increase the COLA.
He says on the contrary, the Cost of Living has gone up, for senior citizens and all Americans. Carroll says if the COLA is “Chained downward,” those adjustments would happen less often, and would be smaller than those Social Security recipients currently receive. Another proposal would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65, to 67. Carroll says that’s something the AARP opposes.
He says two-thirds of persons ages 65-to 66 would pay more out-of-pocket, to the tune of about $2,200 more per year. It would also impact benefices of those over the age of 67, because 65-to 66-year olds tend to be healthier, and have less expenses. When those persons are removed from the Medicare pool, an estimated Medicare Part-B and Part-D premiums would increase for all remaining beneficiaries by about 3-percent.
Carroll says the group understands that adjustments to Medicare and Social Security need to be made, if those programs are to remain solvent and workable, but they need their own “stand-alone” proposal the public would have time to react to. He says seniors in Iowa should call 1-888-722-8514 to contact their representatives in Congress to voice their concerns, or sign a petition on-line at www.aarp.org/protectseniors.