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What's Worrying Seniors? AARP CO Starts Listening Tour

September 19, 2011

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - If you come, they will listen. Representatives from AARP Colorado are traveling the state this week, trying to better understand what issues are of the biggest concern to seniors in Colorado this fall.

Kelli Fritts, director of advocacy for AARP Colorado, says the information-gathering works two ways.

"It's an education tour for both of us. For our staff, so that we can have a better understanding of what our membership is seeking, and that they have a better understanding of the issues that we work on."

Those issues include health care - both before and after retirement - long-term care, and utility affordability. The tour begins in Fort Collins today and will end in Grand Junction on Friday - with stops in Pueblo and Denver. Locations and times are listed at aarp.org/states/co.

Fritts says AARP is currently negotiating in a dispute with Black Hills Energy in Pueblo about a 19 percent increase in rates, and also is trying to make sure that regulated rates remain in place for traditional telephone service.

"It's a pocketbook issue. Our folks are more likely to still have a landline. And that landline is their lifeline to the world."

She says one big concern this year is what changes in the health care system - including Colorado's new health care exchange - mean, especially for those who haven't yet reached retirement age.

"AARP membership starts at age 50. Those folks that are pre-Medicare, and especially if they have any kind of pre-existing condition, are going to be seeking coverage in the health insurance exchange."

The exchange will take effect in 2014, and allow for consumers to compare rates before buying health insurance.

The tour schedule is at tinyurl.com/3gvwydr. To register to attend one of this week's meetings call 1-877-926-8300.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO