With more than 40 million members, including 1.7 million in Ohio, AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) is America’s leading non-profit, non-partisan membership organization for people age 50 and over.

Joanne Limbach, 68, AARP Ohio state president, reflects on the challenges boomers face today and what AARP is doing to help meet them.
Q: What do you think the most crucial issues are facing baby boomers today?
A: Financial security and affordable health care. [Many Americans] are one illness away from disaster –– and that is frightening.

Q: Is Social Security really in trouble? If so, is there a solution?
A: Social Security is not going to go away as long as people are working and paying into it. In 2041, however, the lines will cross and there will be more money going out [in payments] than coming in. We have enough lead-in time to begin looking [for solutions to this] now and phasing in corrections in ways that are not jolting or emotionally threatening. AARP is not wedded to any one-plan-fits-all solution. The organization is also not opposed to privatization, but it’s got to be after the security in Social Security is fixed.

Q: Will affordable health care ever be a reality?
A: I think it will be. The term “affordable” means different things to different people, so a definition has to be determined at the national level. AARP supports legislation that will negotiate volume purchases for drugs that will lower prescription costs.

Q: Talk about AARP’s “Divided We Fail” initiative.
 A: Several years ago, AARP began looking at the gridlock that exists in Washington because control is so narrow and people are becoming more and more partisan. We believe [legislators] need to get back to governing –– not be concerned about who’s going to win the next election. … We think it’s time elected officials at all levels sit down and talk about financial security and health care without fear of being punished.

Q: Why doesn’t AARP endorse one particular plan?
A: One of the reasons AARP doesn’t support a particular plan is because history has taught us the minute you put out a plan with specifics in it, somebody finds fault with part of it; the concept goes away and arguments ensue. We think this is a much broader public policy issue that needs to be discussed as a large issue, and that once you have consensus on that large issue, you begin working on the details.
For more information about AARP and the Divided We Fail pledge, visit www.aarp.org.