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AARP’s Bill Novelli on White House Health Care Forum: Only Comprehensive Reform Will Help Save Millions of People, Employers, and Lifeline Programs

March 5, 2009

Contact: Jim Dau or Jordan McNerney, AARP, 202-434-2560,

WASHINGTON—AARP CEO Bill Novelli released the following statement in advance of today’s White House forum on health care reform. He will attend the forum to represent AARP’s 40 million members.

“Our members are telling us that health care reform is urgent and must be our top priority. Health care costs too much, makes too many mistakes, and often returns little value for our money. We cannot fix our broken economy if we do not fix our broken health care system.

“Comprehensive reform to make affordable coverage options available to everyone is especially urgent for AARP’s 50- to 64-year-old members. This is the fastest growing part of the uninsured population, with 7 million people who don’t have access to health care. This includes people who did everything right but lost their coverage when they lost their jobs or retiree health benefits, or who are left behind because they tend to have preexisting conditions that make coverage in the individual or small group market unaffordable.

“Reform must change how we deliver care, especially for chronic conditions. Seventy-five percent of all Medicare spending goes to treat just 5 chronic conditions. Revising incentives to reward coordination and quality—rather than quantity—of care can improve outcomes and lower costs.

“Reform must also increase health promotion and disease prevention so we focus more on keeping people well and not just on treating them after they get sick.

“While many are quick to focus on the problem of unsustainable costs in Medicare and Medicaid, this is actually a symptom of dysfunction throughout our health care system. We need fundamental reform to strengthen these programs and use them to drive change throughout the health care system.

“AARP and our Divided We Fail allies—Business Roundtable, the National Federation of Independent Business and Service Employees International Union—stand ready to help in any way we can to ensure enactment of comprehensive health reform this year.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 34.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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