Tester Talks with AARP Members


by Scott Beadle

BILLINGS – Senator Jon Tester sat down with a group of Billings seniors on Friday to get their opinions on the state of Medicare and Social Security.

Attendees freely offered opinions on both programs, offering concerns ranging from Medicare fraud to how benefits were calculated for divorced couples. The group disagreed on how sweeping changes in the programs should be, but they almost unanimously agreed that both programs need some updates in the near future. Tester wants any changes to happen within a larger framework.

"If there's any changes made, it has to be part of a bigger package that really takes care of our deficit and debt situation. I think that if you heard the folks here today, what they want to see is this program made stronger for future generations."

One suggestion to make Medicare more efficient was cracking down on fraud in the program. It is estimated that fraud now costs the program tens of billions of dollars annually. Tester agreed that that was one way to make the program more efficient.

"You've got to have enough folks to administer the program that they can get ahold of the folks that are illegal aliens or gaming the system or whatever, and get them off so that money goes to the people who really deserve it and have earned it, and I think that's really the bottom line," Tester said.