Fed. Budget Debate Hits Home in Idaho

AARP Finds Most of Gem State's 50+ on Rocky Road to Retirement as Social Security & Medicare Cuts Loom in Debt Debate

BOISE, Idaho, July 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the debate over paying the nation's debt rages on in Congress, many Idahoans are keeping a watchful eye when talk turns to cutting Social Security and Medicare.  And it's little wonder why.  An AARP report finds the majority of the Gem State's 50+ are off track when it comes to their finances and health care, making the programs even more crucial as some eye retirement.  

"Disappearing pensions, dwindling retirement savings, and rising health care costs are leaving more Idahoans unprepared in their retirement and increasingly reliant on Medicare and Social Security.  Cuts to the programs would be devastating, forcing many to struggle needlessly," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "Idahoans have earned these benefits and are looking to Congress to protect them, not use the benefits as part of a deal to pay the nation's bills."

According to the AARP report (http://bit.ly/gBePOb), 86% of Idahoans 50+ said it was extremely/very important to receive Social Security, and 84% said the same about receiving Medicare.  

Of those, only 31% feel they have everything they need when it comes to their finances, with just one in four stating they have what they need regarding their health care – highlighting the critical importance of Social Security and Medicare.  The report went on to detail the challenges for the age group in the state, topping the list for nearly half was the cost of health care, while one third were worried about having enough money to retire.  

"Across Idaho, AARP is hearing grave concerns from people over talks to cut Social Security and Medicare," added Wordelman.  "We're urging Idahoans to make their voices heard, contact their members of Congress and tell them to keep these programs strong for both today's and tomorrow's retirees."

AARP has launched a nationwide Protect Seniors (www.aarp.org/protectseniors) campaign to engage the public in delivering a simple message to Congress on the issue: Take Social Security and Medicare cuts off the table.  In Idaho, AARP is reaching out to its 180,000 members across the state and urging them to contact their members of Congress directly by calling the Protect Seniors hotline (1-800-710-8049).

In Idaho, nearly 260,000 (17% of the state population) people receive Social Security – for more than half, the checks make up 50% or more of their income, and without it 36% of older Idahoans would fall into poverty. According to another AARP survey, 86% of the state's 65+ have said the check is very important to their monthly budget (http://bit.ly/aarpidecon).  225,735 Idahoans (15% of the population) count on Medicare for access to health care, from prescription drugs to visits to their doctor's office.  Cuts to the programs would reduce benefit checks older Idahoans rely on to pay the bills and increase health care costs, threaten access to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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