Categorized | Features

Mass. voters have their say on entitlements

BOSTON —

With Election Day just two weeks away, AARP today releases a new report entitled, Bay Staters Have Their Say about Medicare and Social Security. Developed through a series of three questionnaires, the report conveys the opinions of more than 50,000 Massachusetts voters who participated in You’ve Earned a Say — a national conversation about how to protect Social Security and Medicare for today’s seniors, and strengthen the programs for future generations. AARP delivered the report to Members of Congress and candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. Representative in Massachusetts, with state-by-state and national reports distributed throughout the country.

“Through You’ve Earned a Say, we’ve heard from voters across the commonwealth — and the nation — who think that when it comes to the future of Medicare and Social Security, Washington isn’t listening,” said Linda F. Fitzgerald, state president of AARP Massachusetts, which serves more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the Bay State. “With these reports, we’re helping Massachusetts voters make their voices heard to candidates for public office.” In addition to questionnaire tabulations, the report features comments from Massachusetts voters, including:

“What will our children have when they get to be our ages?” asked Rita of Worcester. “I feel that Medicare and Social Security both need to be strengthened, so that our children will be somewhat better off than we are now.”

More than half of those Massachusetts voters who responded to AARP’s first You’ve Earned a Say questionnaire believe Social Security (52 percent) and Medicare (58 percent) need either minor or major changes. To secure the future of Social Security and Medicare, 35 percent believe more funding will be needed to maintain the same benefits; 14 percent say benefits will need to be reduced; and, 40 percent say either more funding or benefit cuts will need to occur.

“I believe we should honor the commitments of the past,” states Richard of Assonet. “We can do it with modest adjustments resolved by moderate individuals within Congress.”

The second and third You’ve Earned a Say questionnaires delve deeper into the issues. Nearly half of those Bay Staters who answered said some changes should be made to Social Security (47 percent) and Medicare (46 percent) now, but we should wait before making any major changes. Further, most believe we need a balanced approach of benefit and revenue changes to make sure Social Security (66 percent) and Medicare (60 percent) are there for future retirees.

“With employment stability questionable for so many, retirement savings may be difficult to maintain,” said James of Southbridge. “Social Security and Medicare are lifelines for many. The integrity of these programs must be preserved and even improved.”

The questionnaires also ask about some of the biggest challenges facing Social Security and Medicare, as well as guaranteed coverage for Medicare, changes to Social Security that would further protect vulnerable seniors and widows, and Social Security benefits for upper income workers.

“I do believe Medicare and Social Security should be strengthened, because we are paying more and more for prescription drugs,” explained Joan from Milton. “The cost of food, gas, and just the basics of daily living keep increasing every week.”

“People of all ages and across party lines believe Medicare and Social Security are critical to the health and retirement security of older Americans, and yet voters want more information than attack ads and 30-second sound bites,” Fitzgerald said. “The next President and Congress could determine the future of Social Security and Medicare. Voters want and deserve to know where the candidates stand.”

When it comes to changes being made to Social Security and Medicare in Washington, 45 percent of Massachusetts voters participating in You’ve Earned a Say want to make their voices heard, while another 46 percent want to make their voices heard — but don’t think it will make any difference.

“Washington has given up on the needs of the older folks,” said Robert of Chicopee.

According to AARP surveys, released in August, 50+ voters think the candidates have not done a good job of explaining their plans on Social Security (67 percent) and Medicare (63 percent). And, across party lines, they say that getting more information on where the candidates stand on Social Security (72 percent) and Medicare (70 percent) will help determine their vote on Election Day.

“Here in Massachusetts, the candidates for U.S. Senate, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, have one last debate before Election Day,” said Fitzgerald. “We urge them use some of that time to outline their plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

Through the You’ve Earned a Say report, community conversations, action sessions and more, AARP is working to elevate the voices of Massachusetts voters and provide them with nonpartisan information about the candidates’ positions on issues important older Americans and their families. Recently, AARP released its You’ve Earned a Say: Vote for Retirement Security 2012 Voters’ Guides featuring information from presidential, senatorial and congressional candidates — in their own words — about their plans to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and financial security.

Bay Staters Have Their Say about Medicare and Social Security features comments from Massachusetts residents, as well as results of three questionnaires. These questionnaires are not scientific surveys; they indicate the opinions of the tens of thousands of people who answered the various questionnaires.

For more information, and to read the AARP Voters’ Guide for President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. Representative, visit www.earnedasay.org or www.aarp.org/ma. To receive a free, printed AARP Voters’ Guide, call toll free 866-448-3621. 

One Response to “Mass. voters have their say on entitlements”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] sees hope. When he stands at the door as the audience leaves after a “You’ve Earned a Say” event, people thank him and say they have learned […]


Leave a Reply

Join Now for the 50 Plus Newsletter