Entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have become hot button issues this election season and on Thursday, hundreds of people rallied in several cities in support of the programs. As Katie Gibas reports, demonstrators are determined to make sure the next group elected into office fights to keep the programs at their current levels.
UNITED STATES -- There's no question with a poor economy, things are more than challenging for many Americans, especially seniors.
"It's tough. It's tough for everyone," said Sally Johnston, the Greater CNY Disabled In Action President.
That's why hundreds of people across Upstate New York marched in the "Save our Security" Tour. The goal of the event is to call on lawmakers to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid intact.
"Before we had Social Security, maybe they don't remember that many seniors lived in poor houses. We also deserve after working so many years a chance to retire and enjoy a little bit of it," said Johnston.
A recent AARP survey showed that, 74 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 50 expect to rely more heavily on programs like Social Security and Medicare in their retirement because of the poor economy. But only 12 percent are confident these programs will continue to be there for them in the future.
"When you see the prices of everyday items going up, it does put an additional strain, so we know that they are counting on these programs even more to stay above water," said Chris Widelo, an AARP Associate State Director.
Karen Scharff, Citizen Action of NY Executive Director, added, "Those three programs are essential to make sure every American can retire and can have the healthcare that they need."
Many experts say the programs are in trouble because baby boomers are retiring and fewer people are paying into the system.
"We know Social Security through the year 2033 will be able to pay 100 percent of the benefits that are promised. After that date, it'll still be able to pay about 75 to 78 percent. There's a lot of different ways to address these problems, but the fact remains that they need to address them now and the next Congress will really be charged with doing that," said Widelo.
There are several proposed solutions to address the increasing costs and decreasing funds of those programs. One is to raise the age to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Another is to take money from other parts of the government to put into these programs.
Only time will tell what the government decides to do.