Idaho AARP Members to Congress: We're Not Just Numbers in a Budget!

Oct 12, 2011, 10:00 ET from AARP Idaho

Gem State Seniors Take Action, Remind Supercommittee & Congress They're Watching When it Comes to Cuts in Social Security & Medicare Benefits  

POCATELLO, Idaho, Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress' so-called "supercommittee" races towards its looming Thanksgiving deadline, Idaho seniors are keeping a watchful eye as the committee considers cuts to hard earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Today, from Coeur d'Alene to Pocatello, Idaho AARP members put the "supercommittee" and Members of Congress on notice with a strong message: We aren't line items in a budget!

As hundreds of AARP members converge on Capitol Hill today, members in Idaho and across the nation are hitting the ground with grassroots efforts as part of a national "day of action," calling on the "supercommittee" and Congress to reject proposals that will shift health care costs onto seniors and cut their Social Security checks.

In Pocatello today, AARP members held a press conference to share stories of the importance of Social Security and Medicare in their lives, reminding Congress to focus on cutting waste and tax loopholes, not their hard earned benefits.  Across the Gem State, AARP members are calling their Member of Congress and telling the "supercommittee": Idaho seniors are no pushovers!  

"It's easy enough for this 'supercommittee' to forget what Social Security and Medicare mean in the lives of real people, it's easy for them to overlook Gem State seniors, so we're reminding them today," said Gene Wiggers, an AARP volunteer from Pocatello.  "Just because Idaho doesn't have a Member of Congress on the 'supercommittee' doesn't mean we don't have a voice – and we're making it heard loud and clear: No cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits."

In Idaho, roughly 260,000 people receive Social Security (17% of the state population), while about 226,000 people (15% of the population) rely on Medicare for access to health care.  According to a new AARP report, nearly 57% of Idaho's 65+ rely on Social Security for half or more of their family income (12th highest in the nation), while roughly a quarter count on it for 90% or more of their income.  Without it, 38% of the Gem State's 65+ would fall into poverty.  The average senior on Medicare spends 30% of their income on health insurance premiums and out of pocket health care costs.

"The bottom line is that Idaho seniors have to do more and more, with less and less – Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts would prove nothing short of disastrous for many already living on the brink," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "Hundreds of thousands of Idahoans are joining 50 million seniors across the nation in watching Congress on this issue and will hold them accountable."

Some proposals before the "supercommittee' would cut Social Security by $112 billion, and raise the Medicare eligibility age, costing seniors thousands of dollars over their lifetime.  The latter would cut benefits for younger retirees, increase out of pocket spending for 65- and 66-year-olds by an average of $2,000 per year and increase premiums for those already in Medicare.

The nationwide "day of action" efforts coincide with the launch of AARP's new television ad, which reflects the message delivered to members to Congress today. The television ad script follows:

"I'm not a number. I'm not a line item on a budget. And I'm definitely not a pushover.
"But I am a voter.
"So Washington...before you even think about cutting my Medicare and Social Security benefits…
"Here's a number you should remember.
"50 million.
"We are 50 million seniors who earned our benefits…
"And you will be hearing from us...
"Today and on election day.
"Join the fight. Tell Congress: Cut waste and loopholes, not our benefits."

To watch the new television ad and learn more about our campaign, visit  

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

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