Medicare turns 47 on July 30, reaching a crossroads familiar to middle age: a proud record of success, but also an uncertain future.
Think about life before Medicare. Many older Americans were living in terrible health, unable to afford to see a doctor or fill a prescription. Now, the senior poverty rate is 75 percent lower than before Medicare became law. More recently, the Affordable Care Act has added new Medicare benefits and strengthened its long-term finances through lower prescription drug costs, free preventive tests and screenings, and an end to wasteful taxpayer subsidies to the big insurance companies.
Medicare -- along with Medicaid and Social Security -- has made life better for generations of retirees, but if the wrong candidates win this November, this could all become a thing of the past. Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans want to reduce benefits, raise the eligibility age, and push seniors toward buying health coverage in the costly, unfair private insurance market.
To stop these dangerous plans, the Alliance for Retired Americans is this week launching a national grassroots campaign, Let's Not be the Last Generation to Retire. We've named it that because, as I travel the country, that is the one thing I hear over and over from seniors. They worry about their children and grandchildren. They worry that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security won't be there for them. They do not want to be the last generation to retire.
Over the next few weeks we will hold birthday celebrations in local communities; sponsor educational briefings at senior centers; and organize protests outside offices of lawmakers who have voted against the needs of local retirees. Our goal is to educate seniors on the issues and the candidates in the 2012 elections and to clear up the misinformation being spread by big corporations and TV commentators.
Please join us at an event near you to help make sure that today's retirees are not the last generation to retire.
Follow Barbara J. Easterling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/activeretirees