AARP mobile tour seeks local voices on Medicare

ONALASKA, Wis. — Medicare has become a major focus of the presidential campaign.

Both candidates accuse the other of hurting the program and talk about their plan to save it.

But AARP is giving voters the chance to learn more about both plans and voice their concerns to lawmakers.

“You’ve Earned a Say” is the title of AARP’s nationwide mobile tour that made a stop at Valley View Mall in Onalaska on Thursday.

While it provides information about candidate’s viewpoints on medicare and Social Security, the main focus is on what local people have to say.

Medicare and social security are major issues on the campaign trail.

In a campaign address, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said, “By the way, this debate about Medicare is a debate we want.”


And President Barack Obama said in a campaign speech, “We are certainly positive that the best way to strengthen medicare isn’t to turn it into a voucher.”

The advocacy director for AARP Wisconsin, Lisa Lamkins, said she’s happy Medicare is part of the national conversation.

“We were concerned that it wasn’t getting enough attention on the campaign trail. Certainly with the choice to add congressman Paul Ryan to the ticket, Social Security and Medicare have catapulted to a national conversation,” said Lamkins.

It’s a national conversation AARP’s mobile tour is bringing to local voters.

“We have unbiased information available. We have contracted with experts from conservative and liberal think tanks who give the pros and cons of different options and then we let people make up their own minds on what the best solution would be,” said Lamkins.

Inside the trailer you can fill out a survey on one of the iPads, leave a comment for your representative, or even record a 30 second video.

It’s a chance to be heard that’s important to take advantage of, according to La Crosse Gaylord Perry.

“We’ve got to get a voice in there so someone will listen. “Evidently the members we have in Congress, many of them just aren’t paying attention to what the population is saying. They just want to go along and do what they think is right and we who elect them have no voice,” said Perry.

But no matter what side of the issue a candidate is on, there’s no question both want the votes of the 50-plus age group.

“You have to pay a lot of attention to people over that age because statistically they are amongst the highest of the age groups that turn out,” said UW-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim.

“Historically, older voters tend to vote more frequently and more reliably. They’re always a very important voting block,” said Lamkins.

All of those 30-second videos that people record are uploaded to the part of AARP’s website dedicated to the “You’ve Earned a Say” campaign.

After the tour finishes up later this month AARP will combine all of the surveys filled out by people from each congressional district and present it to their congressman.

The tour started at the beginning of August and will wrap up at the end of this month.

This is the last stop the tour is making in Wisconsin.