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AARP Gets "Face Time" with Oregon Congressmen

July 13, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon's AARP officials are joining their counterparts from other states in the nation's capital today for meetings with their states' senators and representatives. At issue is whether to keep discussions about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid separate from the tense federal debt-limit negotiations.

Meetings are scheduled with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. Jerry Cohen, Oregon AARP state director, says each of the lawmakers will be asked to do what they can to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the table in those heated negotiations about the national debt. Cohen says they've already spent time with each member of the Oregon delegation in recent weeks to stress that it's more than seniors who depend on programs such as Social Security.

"For many reasons, Social Security, through its promise, continues to give not only because of retirement but disability and widows, and children - in terms of those that, in essence, are orphaned or left with only one parent."

The mood in Washington is as hot and muggy as the weather, Cohen says, as he and his counterparts share a common message with lawmakers.

"We totally oppose any kind of arbitrary limits and cuts. Social Security is not the problem, and should not be a part of that dialogue. Nor in the case of talking about Medicare and, for that matter, Medicaid, which is long-term care, home and community care, in Oregon."

More than 700,000 Oregonians receive Social Security benefits. For the majority of recipients, even those who have pensions and savings, Cohen says, the monthly checks keep them above the poverty level.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR