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Wyoming Seniors Take Issue with Proposed Medicare Changes

AARP is launching a new campaign to convince members of Congress to keep President Donald Trump's commitment to safeguard Medicare. (Pixabay)
AARP is launching a new campaign to convince members of Congress to keep President Donald Trump's commitment to safeguard Medicare. (Pixabay)
February 2, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The nation's largest senior advocacy group, AARP, is launching a campaign to block congressional efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher system.

Sam Shumway, executive director of AARP Wyoming, says proposals to privatize the government run health program for people with disabilities and those age 65 and older would go against a deal Congress made with American workers.

"Working people – working Americans – have been paying into this system for their entire life with the expectation that, when they retire, they'll have access to quality and affordable health care," he stresses.

To reduce federal spending, House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed changing Medicare from a single payer system, where the program pays for health care directly, to a system where seniors can opt for private insurance using government vouchers.

Shumway argues that the move would increase health care costs and risks, both for current and future retirees.

Shumway says AARP staff and volunteers will remind members of Congress that Ryan's proposal would put nearly 90,000 Wyoming seniors' benefits at risk, as well as the benefits of more than 118,000 workers currently paying into the system and set to transition to Medicare over the next 15 years.

"There are areas where we can cut,” he allows. “We can reduce waste, fraud. We can get the cost of prescription drugs better under control. But the answer is not passing these on to a very vulnerable segment of our population."

Shumway says AARP will use broadcast and social media to urge Congress to keep President Donald Trump's promises.

During the election campaign, then-candidate Trump said he would protect Social Security and Medicare, which he characterized as deals made "a long time ago."

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY