AARP Alaska launches campaign to protect Medicare

Argues that replacing with vouchers will dramatically increase retirees’ costs

Editor’s note: This press statement was received on Feb. 13, 2017.

AARP has launched a comprehensive campaign to protect Medicare in the face of proposals by some in Congress that would hurt hardworking Alaskans who have paid into the program their entire working lives.

Over the next few weeks, AARP staff and volunteers will meet with members of Congress to underscore the importance of Medicare to Alaska’s beneficiaries and the workers who currently pay in to the program.

Congressional proposals to change Medicare into a voucher system would dramatically increase health care costs and risks for both current and future retirees.

“Older Alaskans depend on Medicare for affordable healthcare,” said Ken Osterkamp, AARP State Director. “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.”

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.”

AARP’s Public Policy Institute also has put out new, detailed analyses about Medicare, including state fact sheets ( ) and Premium Support and the Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries ( ). 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 was very clear about his position, saying, “I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare. You made a deal a long time ago.”