AARP: Fiscal Cliff Hurts Senior Benefits Programs

Meeting with key Pennsylvania Congress members, volunteers of AARP urged officials that Medicare and Medicaid expenditure cuts will not lower health care costs, but shift costs to beneficiaries and other payers, leading to more economic hardship for older Americans. 

“Pennsylvanians 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 AARP Pennsylvania State President Jim Palmquist.

Fiscal cliff talks have put various government spending programs under fire in an effort to reduce the national debt. 

AARP’s positions include firm stances against extending the Social Security payroll tax cut, against the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Reduction, and against raising the Medicare eligibility age as a result of fiscal negotiations. 

Reducing the COLA for Social Security beneficiaries would cut benefits, taking roughly $5.48 billion out of the pockets of Pennsylvania Social Security beneficiaries over the next 10 years, according to AARP. Additionally, it would take $112 billion from beneficiaries nationwide.

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would leave 233,404 Pennsylvanians without health coverage, notes AARP, and would force them into the private market, costing them an additional $2,200 a year. 

As part of AARP’s efforts to reach policymakers on Capitol Hill, the organization has sent a series of letters to Congress and the White House during the lame duck session on topics of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

“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 Pennsylvanians need it the most,” Palmquisst said. 

Written by Jason Oliva 

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