PLATTSBURGH — As federal election campaigns swing into high gear, both Democrats and Republicans are using Medicare and Social Security as lightning-rod issues.
Each side claims the other will destroy vital programs, and they beg voters to back their candidate, who will ensure nothing but blue skies for all seniors.
The AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) is out to provide a different picture of Medicare and Social Security, and the organization is looking for help from those who matter most: the voters.
“The whole idea is to engage as many in the electorate as we can so they can have a say in the process,” John F. Hishta, a senior vice president for AARP in Washington, D.C., said during an Editorial Board meeting with the Press-Republican.
‘PEOPLE REALLY CARE’
Through a series of public forums across the country and with information on the website earnedasay.org, AARP is gathering as many viewpoints on Medicare and Social Security as possible to come up with the top concerns.
The public has been responding in droves. More than 42,000 New Yorkers have shown up at forums this year, and many more have responded online.
“We are finding that people really do care about this because they’ve been paying into the system,” Hishta said.
“I’d say out of the top 10 issues (in fall elections), these two would be in the top four because they are intertwined with everything else.”
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
While AARP has taken stances on certain plans to adjust Medicare and Social Security over the years, its mission now is mostly to provide information so voters can make up their own minds.
With 15 proposals to change Medicare and 12 to fix Social Security being considered, there are plenty of opinions to analyze.
“People want to be heard, and AARP can and will take their viewpoints back to Washington,” said Neal Lane, a member of the New York State AARP Executive Council and a volunteer with its National Policy Council.