Like many retired couples, 87-year old Bob Stromberg and his 86-year-old wife, Joy, like a good debate.
"I figure now we can live 'til at least 100," Joy believes.
"She's more optimistic than I am, but I figure another five years," says Bob.
There's one debate they're keeping closer tabs on than others.
"I am scared. I'm just hoping for the best," says Joy.
Lawmakers are going back and forth on how to avert the fiscal cliff, a series of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect January 1st, unless Congress acts.
"I'm really worried about it. If they do this, as far as Medicare, I'm talking about, I don't know exactly what we would do," says Joy.
"I mean, I've had cancer four times."
So with the fiscal cliff comes cutbacks to Medicare.
"If they don't reach any agreement, seniors could be affected if they are receiving Medicare and if their doctors become less willing to accept Medicare as insurance in view of the fact that the reimbursement that Medicare is providing is going to be less generous," says Gary Burtless
of the Brookings Institution.
But a deal to avert the crisis could also create problems for seniors.
Reform to entitlement programs could be used as a trade off for revenue increases.
That means changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid could be on the table.
"If they're more ambitious and they try to resolve the funding problems of the federal government over a longer span of time, that's when I think senior citizens have more to worry about," Burtless says. "Because then it becomes more inevitable that programs helping aged people through health insurance benefits and government pension benefits are going to be scaled back."
I really thought that the entitlements where here to stay. I thought they were a firm fixture of government," Bob Stromberg says.
Last week, congressional leaders and the president displayed optimism. "I feel confident that a solution may be in sight," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
"We're prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem," added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
But the Strombergs say they'll take the wait and see approach.
"Who knows what's going to come out. Bob Just because they're smiling doesn't mean that they're actually going to come to some sort of a compromise that would be okay with us," notes Bob Stromberg.
Because the future is unclear, the Stombergs say they're watching their budget closely, even canceling this year's vacation.
(Tory Dunnan, CNN)