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Older Coloradans Getting "In the Know"

AARP Colorado holds a town hall meeting at the Evans Community Center, 1100 37th St., from 1 to 3  p.m. on Tuesday. (City of Evans)
AARP Colorado holds a town hall meeting at the Evans Community Center, 1100 37th St., from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday. (City of Evans)
September 25, 2017

DENVER – AARP Colorado is on the road for its statewide Get in the Know Tour to find out what older Coloradans think about the current political climate, and to give updates on upcoming legislation.

Kelli Fritts, director of advocacy for AARP Colorado, says the issue weighing heaviest on people’s minds is the latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

She notes under the Graham-Cassidy proposal, seniors would essentially be giving up a system that provides coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

"Now, you'd be going to the private market with basically money, or a voucher, to go buy insurance in the private market that really just doesn't cover things that are currently being covered now, and could lead to much higher out-of-pocket costs for older adults," she points out.

The bill's proponents say people with pre-existing conditions will still have access to coverage.

AARP has come out against Graham-Cassidy, joining the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, American Heart Association and others.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling found only 24 percent of the nation's voters support the measure.

Fritts says another big concern is proposals to change the homestead property tax exemption, which she argues gives people living on fixed incomes a fighting chance to stay in their homes even as property taxes rise.

Due to limitations on spending under Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Fritts expects lawmakers to push for taxing wealthier seniors in order to pay for roads, schools and other pressing needs.

"There's a lot of issues around homestead that we want to be proactive and have this conversation with our members, so that next year when there is a bill presented, we can say, 'This is what we heard,'" she states.

Fritts says AARP will continue to push for greater fiscal flexibility and ways to fund all the state's needs in spite of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

She says investing in health care, education and infrastructure strengthens communities and helps prepare for the future.

The AARP Colorado tour stops in the Greeley-Evans area Tuesday, and in Sterling on Wednesday.



Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO