Petitt provided the gathered Kiwanians with background information before Schobel covered the statistics.
AARP was founded by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. She was a retired teacher who discovered a former colleague living in a chicken coop. Her friend’s monthly stipend was not enough to provide the necessities of life.
Andrus founded the National Retired Teachers Association. This organization later evolved into AARP in 1958. Her goal was to promote her personal philosophy of productive aging while meeting the needs of the retired.
The program has expanded to a 39 million-plus membership in the United States. Around 680,000 of those members are found in Tennessee. AARP’s overarching goal is to improve the life of those 50 years and older.
Schobel said the organization’s goal is met through choosing specific areas of focus. Proper living facilities and caregiving are two of this year’s AARP topics of interest. Two ongoing political battles deal with Medicare and the nation’s Social Security.
He presented several statistics.
“A total of 94 percent, or 827,555 of older [65-plus] Tennessee residents, received Social Security in 2011,” Schobel said. “The average annual benefit was only $13,800.”
According to reports, Social Security accounted for 69 percent of the typical older Tennessean’s income. A total of 92,711 older Tennesseans lived in poverty. Social Security kept an additional 373,702 from similar situations.
Schobel also said while Medicare provides health coverage, “out-of-pocket costs are high.”
He explained several things can be done to reduce the cost of Medicare.
n They can stop drug companies from gaming the system.
n Let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices.
n Improve care coordination. Schobel asked why there had to be so many of the same tests.
“Does anybody ever ask why they are running this test again?” Schobel inquired. “Why don’t you get them from Dr. A? Why is Dr. B running these tests again?”
n Reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
Schobel ended his presentation by reminding Kiwanians of three services provided by AARP.
“We provide tons of information. If you go on our website, there is information on anything imagineable. It is all free and you do not have to be a member to get it,” Schobel said. “No. 2, we advocate. Obviously we are advocating on behalf of Social Security and Medicare here.”
Continued Schobel, “And we provide service.”
In other news, the Kiwanis scholarship committee presented Esther Michaud and Christopher Coyle with scholarships amounting to $1,500 each.
Both thanked the gathered Kiwanians.
Michaud, originally from Haiti and currently studying at Cleveland State Community College, assured the club their generosity is far reaching.
“I want to thank you for every blessing and every penny you contributed to give me this scholarship,” Michaud said. “When you help one student, you help a family, you help a country, you help a church.”
Continued Michaud, “In the Haitian family, when one is in the United States, they help everybody — their family, their friends. ... When you help me finish my degree in nursing, you help my country.”