It was 47 years ago this month, July 30, 1965, that the Medicare program was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Today, nearly 50 million Americans rely on the program for their basic health care coverage.

As of 2011, over 791,000 Arizona seniors depend on Medicare, which means that 97 percent of all older people in the state are enrolled in the program.

Medicare, however, is facing challenges, even as more seniors enroll and rely on it for their health care needs. It’s projected that the Medicare trust fund will be depleted by 2024, at which time the program will no longer be able to pay all promised benefits.

Over the last several months, AARP has been taking the debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington by hosting a national conversation about strengthening the programs. The AARP effort is called You’ve Earned a Say.

For more information about AARP’s You’ve Earned a Say, go to www.earnedasay.org.

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