AARP to hold ‘Protect Medicare’ meeting

Group says Congress could dramatically increase health care costs and risks for current, future retirees

AARP Hawaii will hold a free “Protect Medicare” meeting from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Monday in Wailuku to discuss congressional proposals to change Medicare in ways that the advocacy group says could dramatically increase health care costs and risks for current and future retirees.

AARP has launched a nationwide campaign to reject a proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system (also known as “premium support”) that would raise costs for seniors and future retirees by eliminating a guaranteed level of coverage and shift costs to people on Medicare, according to an announcement.

The proposal in Congress would give people on Medicare a set dollar amount to purchase insurance from private companies. If the amount were insufficient, patients would pay the difference or get less coverage.

AARP also is fighting what it calls an “age tax,” a proposed penalty on older adults that would allow insurance companies to charge 50- to 64-year-olds as much as five times more than what everyone else pays for the same health coverage. If the age tax bill passes, the average 60-year-old could pay over $3,000 more a year.

According to AARP, the forum will look at ways to preserve senior benefits in the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Such benefits include a ban on denying health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and efforts to close the “donut hole” in prescription drug coverage.

The donut hole refers to a gap in Medicare Part D coverage between an initial coverage limit and the catastrophic-coverage threshold.

AARP officials will update meeting attendees on state legislation affecting seniors. Those planning to attend are asked to call (877) 926-8300 or go to aarp.cvent.com/community2-27. The meeting will be held at Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.’s classroom No. 2, 99 Mahalani St. in Wailuku.

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