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AARP Says 7 in 10 Older Americans Oppose Medicare, Social Security Changes Now

‘Congress should not make last-minute deals that would jeopardize the promise made to current and future generations that they receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits they have contributed…’

Nov.15, 2012 - In an AARP survey fielded immediately following the 2012 election, 70 percent of Americans age 50 or older say that they believe a separate public debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security is needed and changes should not be part of any end-of-year deal addressing the nation’s budget deficit, often referred to as the “fiscal cliff.” Almost all (92%) older Americans also said that it is very important that Washington listen to ordinary citizens when it comes to decisions about Medicare and Social Security.

AARP’s survey, 50+ Americans and the future of Medicare and Social Security, looked at public views about potential changes to Medicare and Social Security in a post-election Congressional session, cuts to benefits to reduce the deficit, and approaches to reducing Medicare costs.

“This survey shows that older Americans have significant concerns about any attempt to make major changes to the lifeline programs of Social Security and Medicare in rushed negotiations in the short time before a new Congress arrives,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

 

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“We commend the bipartisan group of leaders and public officials who have expressed the need to work together on important issues facing our country including the deficit.

'Our members have concerns about the nation’s economy, their own economic security and the maintenance of these vital bedrocks of health and retirement security for their kids and grandkids, and future generations and that’s why we urge Congress and the President not race to put harmful changes to Social Security and Medicare into any end-of-year package.”

AARP’s survey also examined the level of interest among Americans 50+ in having a say in the future of Medicare and Social Security, as well as the importance of access to information about how changes will impact them. The survey comes during the robust conversation AARP says it continues to have with millions Americans about strengthening Social Security and Medicare called You’ve Earned a Say.

Lame Duck Congress and the Fiscal Cliff

Americans across party lines clearly stated their views that Congress should not make last-minute deals that would jeopardize the promise made to current and future generations that they receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits they have contributed to. Findings include:

   ● No Last-Minute Deals on Medicare and Social Security: The majority of 50+ Americans (70%), across party lines, believe a separate public debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security is needed and changes should not be part of any end-of-year deal (71% Democratic, 67% Republican, 71% Independent).

   ● Any Changes to Medicare and Social Security Should Focus on People—Not Budgets: Across party lines, the majority of adults age 50+ (76%) oppose reducing Medicare benefits to reduce the deficit (84% Democratic, 70% Republican, 74% Independent). Similarly, a majority (75%) oppose reducing Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit (79% Democratic, 70% Republican, 76% Independent). Furthermore, two-thirds (67%) believe changes to Medicare and Social Security should be made based on the needs of the people and not just their impact on the budget.

   ● Washington Politicians Should Listen: Almost all of adults age 50+ (92%) believe it is very important that Washington listen to ordinary citizens when it comes to decisions about Medicare and Social Security (92% Democratic, 93% Republican, 92% Independent).

“AARP hopes elected officials have a conversation with the people they represent on any proposals they support,” added LeaMond. “Changes to Social Security and Medicare must not be considered without the input of the people who have contributed to and rely on the programs.”

Other findings include:

   ● No Cuts to Social Security COLA: The majority of adults age 50+ (61%) oppose changing the Social Security cost of living adjustment (63% Democratic, 62% Republican, 59% Independent).

   ● Reducing Health Costs, Not Benefits: When it comes to reducing Medicare costs, 50+ adults would prefer changes in payment policy for healthcare providers to encourage greater effort to contain costs rather than changing seniors’ payments such as higher deductibles and co-pays to encourage fewer services (71% compared to 12%). These findings hold across party lines (81% Democratic, 64% Republican, 68% Independent).

   ● Keeping the Promise to Seniors: An overwhelming majority of 50+ adults (78%) believe it is very important not to reduce Social Security benefits for current recipients (80% Democratic, 73% Republican, 80% Independent). Likewise, more than three in four (76%) believe it is very important not to reduce Medicare benefits for current beneficiaries (80% Democratic, 70% Republican, 75% Independent).

   ● Knowing What Changes Would Mean for Them: Less than half of 50+ adults felt President Obama provided enough information during the election season about his plans for Medicare (45%) and Social Security (43%) so that they could understand how it may impact them personally.

Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to feel they had enough information about President Obama’s plans for Medicare (76% Democratic, 19% Republican, 38% Independent) and Social Security (78% Democratic, 14% Republican, 38% Independent).

For complete results of the survey, 50+ Americans and the future of Medicare and Social Security, click here.

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