Take care of our seniors

We need to take care of our seniors.

That’s a simple message we’ll stand by. We’re hoping our legislators in Congress are listening.

We understand the government needs to reduce spending. The national debt of $16 trillion and climbing is scary. Medicare, though, specifically programs that benefit seniors, isn’t the right place to save money.

Medicare provides guaranteed, affordable health coverage to over 217,000 Hawaii residents – 16 percent of our population. Consider this, too: More than one million seniors enrolled into Medicare Advantage plans in 2013, and more than 3.3 million have enrolled since the health law’s passage in 2010. The share of Medicare beneficiaries on MA plans is at an all-time high of 28 percent.

However, the program faces challenges ahead due to rising health care costs and changing demographics.

Proposed cuts to Medicare would have an even greater impact on older Hawaii residents.

“Our members are tired of hearing that the only way to put Medicare on stable ground is to cut benefits or force seniors to pay more,” said AARP Hawaii State President Gerry Silva. “We believe Washington can reduce costs in Medicare and throughout the health care system by clamping down on drug companies’ high prices, improving coordination of care and use of technology, and cutting out over-testing, waste and fraud.”

AARP Hawaii is hosting a public forum calling attention to cuts to Social Security and Medicare being discussed in Washington. It is scheduled 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Courtyard Marriott Kauai.

We support AARP in its efforts to find solutions that will secure Social Security and Medicare for future generations and keep promises to current seniors.

AARP, a member organization for people age 50 and over, is calling for separate debate about Social Security solvency apart from discussions about deficit reduction. AARP opposes the so-called “chained CPI,” which would cost Hawaii seniors and veterans thousands of dollars over their lifetimes.

Cutbacks would hit seniors hard. And these are people often living on fixed income who can little afford it. They’ve paid their dues. As AARP says, “You’ve worked too hard to let those elected to office in Washington decide the future of Medicare and Social Security without hearing from you.”

So, let them hear from you, loud and clear.

If you plan to attend the forum, please register by calling (877) 926-8300 or http://aarp.cvent.com/YEASKauai

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