Congressional leaderssay they're prepared to stay on the job until Christmas Eve if necessary to work out a federal budget deal and avoid the fiscal cliff.
However, the lack of agreement on what should be part of that deal is making people in their 50s and beyond a little nervous.
AARP Florida reports almost 2.8 million seniors in the state receive Medicare, and spokesman Dave Bruns said receiving Medicare is so important to Florida seniors that many have a party when they reach the current eligibility age.
"Becoming Medicare age is literally cause for celebration all over the state of Florida and the United States. It's extremely expensive to get private health-care coverage for people who are older."
On average, Floridians receive about $1,200 a month in Social Security. Bruns said seniors hit hard by the recession don't have many years to work and recoup their losses.
He also said language referring to Social Security and Medicare as "entitlements" bothers Florida seniors.
"The quickest way to pick a fight with an older Floridian is to call Medicare or Social Security an entitlement program. They've paid into these programs all their lives."
Nationally, AARP reports about 5 million people responded to its campaign called "You've Earned a Say," and views from every state about how to fix Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have been shared with their senators and representatives. Bruns says the down market makes it even harder for Florida seniors to consider a decrease in benefits.
"They've seen their biggest asset, their home, plunge in value. The market turmoil has threatened what little nest egg they've been able to put aside, and now they're seeing Washington bent on cutting Medicare and Social Security."
Some proposals being tossed around in Congress include: raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67, making workers pay Social Security taxes on more of their income and changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated.
- Florida News Connection