Half Million Iowa Seniors Teetering on "Fiscal Cliff"
DES MOINES, Iowa - Among the ideas Congress is toying with to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" are raising the age to qualify for Medicare to 67, and changing the way the cost-of-living adjustment is calculated for people on Social Security.
Anthony Carroll, associate state director for advocacy at AARP Iowa, says there are a half-million Iowa seniors who would see fewer benefits if the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) were changed.
"What is really significant about that is, by the time someone's older it would be compounded, so by the time they're 85 in Iowa, it would result in one month less of benefit."
He says raising the age to qualify for Medicare would leave more than 51,000 Iowans without health care coverage, which they would then have buy privately. And he notes that removing the younger and often healthier seniors from Medicare shifts more of the cost onto those who remain on the program. Carroll says profound changes like this shouldn't be rushed through Congress at the last minute.
"We know that these programs need to be strengthened, but doing a last-minute deal with three weeks to go, when people aren't really paying attention, isn't something that Iowans want."
For people who want to see views both pro and con about all the proposals being discussed, Carroll suggests the website EarnedaSay.org. AARP created the site, which also allows seniors to add their opinions to pass on to Congress.