AARP: Leave Medicare out of fiscal-cliff talks

AARP, the powerful seniors' lobby, is pushing to keep Medicare out of high-level talks on avoiding the "fiscal cliff."

The group released a survey Wednesday finding that seven in 10 Americans above age 50 want a "separate public debate" on Medicare's future.

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This opinion was consistent across party lines, according to AARP, with 71 percent each of Democrats and Independents and 67 percent of Republicans saying Medicare should be excluded from an end-of-year deal.

Americans over 50 also disagree with cutting the program's benefits to deficit reduction, the poll found. AARP did not ask about the program's eligibility age of 65, which could be on the table.

In a statement, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said older Americans have "significant concerns" about any attempt to reform Medicare or Social Security in the heat of talks on the fiscal cliff.

"Our members have concerns about the nation’s economy, their own economic security and the maintenance of these vital bedrocks of health and retirement security for their kids and grandkids, and future generations," LeaMond said in a statement.

"We urge Congress and the president not race to put harmful changes to Social Security and Medicare into any end-of-year package."

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that any deficit-reduction plan should include entitlement reform. Democrats and President Obama might agree, they say, if Republicans concede on taxes.

Obama will meet with lawmakers on Friday to open negotiations.