EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 1, 2013

Kuster hears New Hampshire seniors' concerns

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — Jane Lang, like many other Granite State senior citizens, is skeptical of the nation’s leaders.

After working and paying taxes for decades, they wonder if members of Congress are doing enough to represent their needs when it comes to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

But yesterday, the 65-year-old Lang said she was pleased to be able to voice her concerns to Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., during a “telephone town hall” conference call, along with other senior citizens across the state.

Lang, coordinator of Salem’s farmers market, said she and her husband, Theodore, are retired and rely heavily on their Social Security payments each month.

“It’s an issue I’m very concerned about,” she said.

Lang told Kuster she’s unhappy with how the federal government calculates cost-of-living benefits. She said she doesn’t think seniors are receiving the benefits they should.

“My concern is that Medicare did not cause the deficit, so why are seniors being targeted to slow down the cost?” Lang asked.

Kuster, who has co-sponsored a House resolution that opposes the Chained CPI method used to figure COLAs, said she will continue to speak out on the issue in Washington and fight for senior citizens.

“I am determined to stop this,” she said. “It makes it much more difficult for seniors to make ends meet.”

After the event, Lang said she was happy with Kuster’s response and hopeful she will help make a difference.

Kuster said her goal is increase access to affordable health care for all Americans, especially the elderly.

She criticized Republican leaders in Congress for not doing enough to reduce health care costs and fund Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

“That is something I am very, very focused on, bringing down the cost of health care,” she said. “We should not be asking seniors to sacrifice the benefits they have earned.”

Kuster, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, also fielded questions from residents of Concord, Groveton and Nashua. The seniors asked how programs could be improved, how prescription drugs could be made more affordable, and how payments to the disabled could be expedited.

“What’ are people going to do if there is no more Social Security?” a Nashua woman asked. “Are we all going to starve?”

Seniors were contacted at random and asked if they would like to question Kuster, her spokesman Rob Friedlander said. Two AARP analysts also answered questions during the half-hour discussion.

When asked about Kuster’s attacks on Republican leadership, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. — the state’s only Republican in Congress — declined to respond.

But Ayotte did issue a statement about her support for programs that help seniors.

“As I’ve said in town hall meetings across the state, Social Security and Medicare — programs critically important to New Hampshire seniors, including my grandparents — will go bankrupt as early as 2026 and 2033, respectively,” she said. “Congress and the administration must work together to reform these programs and preserve them for current and future generations.”