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AARP launches campaign to protect Medicare

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Organization opposes any changes to current law that cut benefits or increase costs

AARP on Jan. 30 launched a comprehensive campaign to protect Medicare in the face of proposals by some in Congress that would hurt hardworking Oregonians who have paid into the program their entire working lives. Congressional proposals to change Medicare into a voucher system would dramatically increase healthcare costs and risks for both current and future retirees. Over the next few weeks, AARP staff and volunteers will meet with members of Congress to underscore that this proposal would put seniors' benefits at risk and threaten the guarantee of benefits for 808,504 workers, ages 50 to 64, who are currently paying into the system. "Older Oregonians depend on Medicare for affordable healthcare," said AARP State Director Jerry Cohen. "A voucher system would dramatically increase healthcare costs and risks for current and future retirees. It could mean many thousands of dollars out of their own pockets." The average senior, with an annual income of under $25,000 and already spending one out of every six dollars on healthcare, counts on Social Security for the majority of his or her income and on Medicare for access to affordable health coverage.

"AARP will continue to oppose changes to current law that cut benefits, increase costs or reduce the ability of these critical programs to deliver on their benefit promises," said Cohen, who added that there are currently 709,022 Oregonians who rely on Medicare for healthcare insurance. AARP's Public Policy Institute also has put out new, detailed analyses about Medicare, including a fact sheet about Medicare in Oregon and Premium Support and the Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries.

The report notes that "premium support could force people with fewer financial resources to leave traditional Medicare and enroll in less-expensive plans, with more limited benefits and restrictive provider networks."

Additionally, the campaign includes television and digital advertising that urges Congress to keep President Trump's commitment on Medicare. During the election, President Trump was very clear about his position, saying, "I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare. You made a deal a long time ago." A new website for the campaign – aarp.org/protectmedicare – also launched Jan. 30.

"We'll be working with our volunteers statewide and our 500,000 members to make sure our members of Congress understand how important Medicare is to Oregon, and we urge others to do the same," Cohen said.