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AARP: Senate Bill Must Be Strengthened, Not Stopped

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2009

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AARP Media Relations, media@aarp.org

AARP: Senate Bill Must Be Strengthened, Not Stopped

“We agree this bill must be strengthened, but it should not be derailed”

WASHINGTON—AARP today sent a letter to senators in opposition to Sen. John McCain’s amendment to recommit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Association noted that, while the bill must be improved to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable, the McCain amendment ignores the need to strengthen Medicare. A statement from AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond follows:

“Cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse is essential to strengthen Medicare and ensure this lifeline program remains financially sound for future generations. AARP opposes Sen. McCain’s amendment, which would continue to waste billions of taxpayer dollars, do nothing to improve Medicare benefits and essentially stop health reform in its tracks.

“We agree this bill must be strengthened, but it should not be derailed.

“As the Senate continues the important task of amending its health care reform legislation, it must make health care and prescription drugs more affordable for older Americans. We will continue to work with the Senate to strengthen this bill in these two key areas.

“For our members in Medicare, health care reform must close the program’s prescription drug coverage gap known as the doughnut hole. More than three million Americans fall into this dangerous gap each year, while countless others risk their health by skipping doses or cutting pills in half just to avoid it. The Senate bill takes steps to reduce the cost of brand name drugs for people in the gap, but still allows the gap to grow each year as prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket.

“At the same time, younger AARP members—those who often find themselves on the individual insurance market—are struggling to purchase affordable coverage because of health insurers’ age discrimination. In most states, age rating is unregulated, allowing insurers to cherry pick the most profitable customers and price older Americans out of the market. While the Senate bill places some limits on this discriminatory practice, we believe it must go farther to ensure affordability by setting stricter limits as the House-passed legislation does.

“To be clear, AARP has not endorsed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We’ll continue our work with senators on both sides of the aisle to build a health care reform package that we can endorse—one that closes the doughnut hole and severely restricts health insurer age discrimination.”

To request a complete copy of AARP’s letter to the Senate, please contact AARP Media Relations at media@aarp.org.

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 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's nearly 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.org. 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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