AARP leaders across the country, and in Springfield, today announced the launch of You’ve Earned a Say, a national conversation about strengthening health and retirement security. With You’ve Earned a Say, AARP is taking the debate about Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington and making sure that all Americans have a voice in the discussion about their future.
During the You’ve Earned a Say kick-off in Massachusetts, more than 100 seniors and their families gathered at Springfield’s St. Anthony’s Church to participate in a community conversation, facilitated by AARP Massachusetts State President Linda Fitzgerald. Citing research that shows 95 percent of Americans think Washington should spend more time listening to ordinary citizens like them when it comes to decisions about Medicare and Social Security, she said, “You’ve worked too hard to let the next President and Congress make decisions about the future of Medicare and Social Security without hearing from you.
“We’ve earned our Medicare and Social Security benefits, and we all have a right to speak up about how to strengthen these pillars of retirement security for generations to come,” Fitzgerald added. The Springfield residents shared their opinions and ideas about the future of Medicare and Social Security, and also had the opportunity to “vote their views” during interactive polling.
According to Fitzgerald, results of the new AARP research, released today, emphasize the importance of Medicare and Social Security to older Americans, and outline some of the challenges facing the program in the coming years. In the survey, 98 percent of respondents said Medicare is important to people’s health in retirement, but only 54 percent are confident it will be there for them throughout their retirement. Similarly, 96 percent of respondents believe Social Security is important to people’s financial security in retirement, but only 49 percent are confident it will be there for them.
In Massachusetts, nearly a million seniors count on Social Security to help pay the bills, and on Medicare for guaranteed health care coverage. The average Social Security benefit is $14,000 a year, and in the Bay State, seniors typically rely on Social Security for more than half (56 percent) of their income. Meanwhile, the commonwealth’s seniors pay about $6,800 out of pocket annually for Medicare premiums, co-payments and deductibles.
Fitzgerald explained, “Social Security and Medicare are the foundation of retirement security for millions of Americans. By working together, getting involved, and making our voices heard, we can keep Social Security and Medicare strong for today’s seniors and future generations.”
Over the next few months, AARP Massachusetts will facilitate more than 30 You’ve Earned a Say community conversations across the commonwealth, hold telephone town hall meetings to hear from thousands of Bay Staters, and sponsor webinars for those interested in sharing their views online. In addition, AARP volunteers will distribute You’ve Earned a Say questionnaires at scores of public events and activities. The questionnaire is also available at www.aarp.org/ma.