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July 30, 2013 at 3:23 PM
WASHINGTON — Can Americans continue to count on Medicare when they turn 65?
The AARP says it is trying hard to keep that a yes.
The nation’s leading advocacy group for older Americans marked the 48th anniversary of Medicare’s enactment Tuesday by launching the first of a series of ”common sense” video solutions to prevent cuts to universal coverage for seniors.
One idea: Block arrangements between pharmaceutical companies to delay release of generic drugs, which costs an estimated $3.5 billion annually in higher-cost brand-name prescriptions.
That would make a small dent in the $530 billion Medicare program. The government-financed health plan is consuming an increasing share of the federal budget, driven by an aging population and high cost of health care. In 2012, Medicare payroll taxes covered just 38 percent of the program’s revenue. The rest was financed by general taxes, member premiums and other sources.
Republicans in Congress have proposed turning Medicare into a voucher plan that gives seniors money to shop for private coverage. President Obama has floated the possibility of raising Medicare eligibility age to 67.
Jason Erskine, an AARP spokesman in Seattle, said the group usually celebrates the anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing Medicare into law on July 30, 1965.
“But I’d say this is really less of a commemoration and more of a message reminding people just how important the program is to so many people across the state and nation,” he said.
August 8, 2012 at 12:02 PM
WASHINGTON — In a nation mired in pessimism, pre-retirement Americans 50 and older hold the darkest views about their financial situation — and least hopeful that it would get any better in the near future.
That’s the upshot from a survey released Wednesday by AARP. The national telephone survey of 1,852 registered voters found acute anxiety among all Americans over their economic prospects.
For instance, 28 percent of the over-50 workers expect to have to keep earning a paycheck forever. Another 22 percent were only somewhat confident that they could retire eventually. Even among Americans ages 18 to 49, 16 percent believe they can never afford to retire.
At the same time, three of five Boomers said they will rely more on Social Security and Medicare to get through their golden years.
That could prove financially ominous for Medicare, which provides health coverage for 50 million Americans 65 and older. As with other health-care spending, Medicare’s outlays have grown faster than the economy for years, straining both the treasury and seniors’ pocketbooks. Payroll taxes, which covered 70 percent of Medicare benefits paid in 1980, will cover just 35 percent this year.
AARP, the leading advocacy organization for older Americans, has made preserving Medicare and Social Security benefits a top legislative priority.
The survey also found that voters 50 and older are evenly split for President Obama and Mitt Romney at 45 percent each, with 10 percent undecided. But support for Romney was more pronounced among whites (53 percent vs. 37 percent for Obama), men (51 percent-38 percent) and people who were insecure about their future (57 percent-30 percent).
The survey’s core national sample of 1,001 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
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