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AARP Hawaiʻi Launches Campaign to Protect Medicare

January 31, 2017, 1:41 PM HST
* Updated January 31, 1:45 PM
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AARP has launched a comprehensive campaign to protect Medicare in the face of proposals by some in Congress that would impact hardworking people in Hawaiʻi who have paid into the program their entire working lives.

Congressional proposals to change Medicare into a voucher system would increase health care 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 the proposal would put 218,975 Hawaiʻi seniors’ benefits at risk and threaten the guarantee of benefits for 268,118 workers in Hawaiʻi, ages 50-64, who are currently paying into the system.

“Older people in Hawaiʻi depend on Medicare for affordable healthcare,” said AARP State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “A voucher system would dramatically increase health care costs and risks for current and future retirees. It could mean many thousands of dollars out of their own pockets.”

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In a recent letter to Congress, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said: “The average senior, with an annual income of under $25,000 and already spending one out of every six dollars on health care, counts on Social Security for the majority of their income and on Medicare for access to affordable health coverage. We 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. We urge you to continue to do so as well.”

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AARP’s Public Policy Institute also has put out new, detailed analyses about Medicare, including a Hawaiʻi fact sheet, and Premium Support and the Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries policy paper. 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 said, “I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare. You made a deal a long time ago.”

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