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AARP Survey Finds Middle-Aged & Older Americans Struggling in Economy

50% Cite Trouble Paying for the Basics, Fear Job & Health Insurance Loss in Coming Year - Fuels Need for Congress to Address Key Issues in Recovery Bill

CHICAGO, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While Congress debates an economic recovery bill, many middle-aged and older Americans are finding it difficult to stay above water. According to a recent AARP survey, over half of people 45 and older are having difficulty paying for the basics, such as medicine and utilities with many fearing losing their jobs and health care in 2009. Survey findings ring particularly true in Illinois, where unemployment rates have jumped to 7.6%, while the national average is the highest in decades.

People are looking to their lawmakers for help, with 83% of those surveyed believing the government should help people protect health care coverage for those who have lost their jobs. Eight out of 10 want the government to extend unemployment benefits, and tackle soaring health care costs.

"Across the nation and here in Illinois more people are struggling to pay for necessities and are very worried about what the future holds when it comes to employment and health care," said Bob Gallo, State Director for AARP in Illinois. "People expect their lawmakers to step up and help deliver some relief to the crisis most families are experiencing."

With the bill currently before the Senate, AARP is urging them to improve upon the House version of the recovery legislation by providing assistance to states to protect health care home and community based services for the most vulnerable people and to provide seniors who no longer work with additional economic relief. AARP has worked to ensure the economic recovery legislation extends unemployment benefits and provides health care reforms aimed at bringing costs down and increasing access.

The survey: A Year-End Look at the Economic Slowdown's Impact on Middle-aged and Older Americans, provides an update to a survey conducted in April, 2008. Key findings from the AARP survey include:

  • 52% had trouble paying for food, gas, and medicine, while 45% had trouble paying for utilities
  • 31% thought it was likely they would lose their job in 2009
  • 55% are worried about being able to afford health care in 2009
  • 31% percent feared losing their health insurance in 2009
  • 9% had lost their jobs during the past 12 months (nearly double the rate from April 2008)

In Illinois, AARP is working to expand access to Medicaid to the 50-64 population -- one of the most underserved groups when it comes to access to health care -- and reform the insurance industry, so no one is denied health coverage during what are already difficult times for many people.

The full survey can be found online at:

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