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Montanans “Stay on the Line” Today to Talk Medicare with HHS

March 23, 2012

HELENA, Mont. – Thousands of phones will be ringing in Montana this morning - asking folks to participate in a "telephone town hall" meeting with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Director Marguerite Salazar.

AARP Montana is hosting the 10:30 a.m. call to provide background to its members on the current financial picture of Medicare and details about proposals under consideration in Congress, and to field questions about them from the call-in audience.

Joy Bruck, AARP Montana state president, says it's part of a yearlong effort to talk about health care and retirement security.

"AARP is going to be listeners this year, so that we get a feel for where our members, and future retirees, are coming from on these two issues."

The Montana event is part of You've Earned a Say, a national AARP campaign.

Bruck says Medicare and Social Security, along with Medicaid, are a big chunk of the federal budget - and literally millions depend on the programs. Yet, she says honest talk about how to manage the cost amid a federal budget deficit is lacking.

"The discussions are not very out in the open, so people don't know, really, what's going on, and both political parties have been very hesitant to discuss this whole area, and it needs to be discussed. It's time."

Bruck says more than 140,000 Montanans use Medicare, and their average out-of-pocket expenses are about $4,700 a year. About 136,000 receive Social Security.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT