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AARP Urges Quick Action on a Smart Stimulus Package

January 8, 2009

Contact: Danielle Holland, AARP, 202-434-2560, dholland@aarp.org

WASHINGTON— AARP’s Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of Social Impact, today released the following statement in response to President-elect Obama’s speech addressing the economic, job and financial security of our nation and Americans.

“We are extremely please to hear that the President-elect and his new Administration is devoted to creating smart and actionable solutions that will provide immediate and long-term relief to Americans. With a close eye on unemployment, access to health care, and affording day-to-day necessities, AARP is committed to working with President-elect Obama and his team during this critical time.

“We have listened to our members, and we have listened to the American people – 64 percent of age 45+ Americans said the economy is in very bad shape, 55 percent said that they are concerned about being able to pay their health care bills over the next 12 months, 83 percent say the government should help people who have lost their jobs keep their health insurance or purchase affordable health insurance, and 32 percent of those working said they have stopped contributing to their retirement accounts 88 percent say they are retired but looking for work because they need more income.

“This is indeed a time for strong action, accountability, and transparency so that all Americans can once again pursue their dreams.”

Below are AARP’s economic stimulus priorities for 2009:

AARP Economic Stimulus Priorities

- Assistance for the Unemployed A significant number of jobs have already been shed in this recession, and many more individuals are expected to become unemployed in the coming months. Just over half of AARP’s members remain in the workforce and are vulnerable to widespread job loss. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed aged 55 and older rose by 65 percent. Authorizing an additional extension of benefits is warranted for those who continue to look for work but are unable to find unemployment. Data indicate when older, longer-tenured workers lose employment, it takes them longer to find the next job, and older jobseekers may be at greater risk than younger jobseekers of exhausting their unemployment benefits before finding a new job.

 Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) The economic downturn has increased the need for health coverage, due to rising unemployment, at a time when over half the states are facing budget shortfalls, and many are considering or are already implementing cuts to health care for people who cannot afford care on their own. As a result, states are already beginning to curb Medicaid services. We urge an FMAP increase soon that includes a requirement for states to maintain both eligibility and benefits to avoid cuts in services that may hurt vulnerable Americans.

- Federal Nutrition Programs Fixed and low income individuals face unacceptable choices as food costs increase along with the price of medicine and health care. Including a temporary increase in the Food Stamps allotment, as well as additional funding for other nutrition programs, would help ensure that an adequate nutrition safety net is available for the most vulnerable, while also providing an effective economic stimulus.

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