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We’re covering several issues in today’s news including: it’s a key week for Republicans drumming up support for health care legislation; mayors from around the country speak out against Trump’s climate policies; and why some cattle producers have a beef with the USDA.

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AARP Calling on Congress to Protect Medicare

A campaign is under way to save Medicare for Illinois residents. (aarp.org)
A campaign is under way to save Medicare for Illinois residents. (aarp.org)
February 14, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A campaign has been launched in Illinois to save Medicare. AARP is trying to rally state residents to write or call members of Congress to save the program that affects millions of people.

AARP State Director Bob Gallo says a new voucher plan that's being discussed to replace Medicare as we know it would have a negative effect on those who rely on the program. He says a voucher system would dramatically increase health-care costs and make them unaffordable for many on a fixed income.

"If they have a situation where they need to go to a doctor or a hospital, a voucher probably would not cover all of the costs and you would have folks who would be responsible for thousands and thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs," he explained.

Gallo says it's not just an issue that impacts seniors, he says gen-X-ers and millennials are at risk too, adding that about 20 percent of Illinoisans are between the ages of 50 and 64 today and will transition into Medicare over the next 15 years.

Gallo says two million Illinois residents are enrolled in Medicare now, with the numbers going up every day. He says a retiree with an annual income of less than $25,000 already is spending one-out-of-six dollars on health care.

"What this would wind up doing is that only people who have very significant means - who are wealthy, rich, however you want to categorize that - would be the ones who would be getting the best health care," he added.

Gallo believes the squeaky wheel does get attention.

"It matters tremendously right now," continued Gallo. "There are going to be mid-term elections coming up in two years, and now's the time to share with elected officials who are in office what you are concerned about and what you want them to represent you on."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL