Access for All
To make expanded coverage meaningful, we must remove barriers to care that harm the less-affluent and certain racial and ethnic communities. A shortage of primary care providers in many urban and rural areas continues to keep health care out of reach for many, unfairly dividing our society between health care haves and have-nots.
AARP advocates a national effort to build a larger, culturally competent health care workforce to fill the gap in primary care and the shortages of those trained to deal with the special needs of older patients. Medicare can lead the way by requiring greater accountability for hospitals that receive Medicare funding to train doctors, to ensure the right balance of primary care providers and specialists is produced. But meeting the health care needs of all communities will also require a greater role for non-physician healthcare professionals. Unnecessary limits on Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are an unwise barrier to primary care. State and national policymakers should review rules that limit nurses and other clinicians from working up to the full extent of their education and training.
In addition, AARP opposes actions by employers to cut back post-retirement health benefits. Such benefits should be considered a continuing obligation to all retirees, including those who leave the workforce as a result of a layoff or buyout.
Congress and the Administration should mount ongoing efforts to contain health care costs in a way that is fair to all. There is no silver bullet. Efforts to wring out waste, increase efficiency, improve the use of medical information, manage chronic illness more effectively, avoid medical mistakes and promote healthy personal behaviors are all part of the answer. Continued cost growth for health care, increasingly threaten household budgets and discourage individuals from going to the doctor or filling prescriptions. More broadly, these costs negatively impact our national economic vitality.
Doctors must be more efficient stewards of costly care. They should be aware of medical evidence of effectiveness in recommending treatments, while making sure patients understand they are getting the care they need. Payment systems should be overhauled to encourage quality and discourage wasteful uses of costly technology