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AARP Tells Congress: Continue Progress on Health Care Reform

March 16, 2010

AARP Media Relations

AARP Tells Congress: Continue Progress on Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON — Today, AARP Board chair Bonnie M. Cramer, M.S.W., joined Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Members of Congress to continue the call for health care reform. Excerpts from Cramer’s remarks follow:

“AARP was started more than 50 years ago after its founder discovered a retired teacher in poor health living in a chicken coop, unable to afford health care. Since then, we’ve made helping older Americans get stable, affordable health insurance a critical part of our mission.

“For the last two years, we’ve engaged our members in a dialogue about health insurance reform.

“We’ve heard from people in Medicare who still can’t afford their prescriptions or who are worried their doctor will no longer be able to treat them. We’ve heard from others who are being priced out of affordable coverage because they’re over the age of 50.

“It is the concerns outlined by our members that spurred the list of priorities we’ve spent the last year urging Members of Congress to include in any final health care legislation – to reiterate, AARP members believe Congress should pass a health insurance reform package that will protect their guaranteed Medicare benefits, lower their drug costs, crack down on insurance company abuses like denying affordable coverage because of age or medical history, and prevent anyone from coming between them and their doctors.

“The reform legislation passed by the Senate lays a strong foundation to build on to meet the priority needs of older Americans, and AARP is especially encouraged by the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues to make sure that any final reform package includes a measure to close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the ‘doughnut hole.’

“As the House considers its final package this week, AARP looks forward to thoroughly evaluating it to make sure it includes critical priorities we’ve been fighting for to greatly improve the lives of millions of older Americans by:

* Stopping insurance companies from pricing people out of coverage because they become sick and limiting the amount they charge because of their age;

* Protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits and strengthening the program’s solvency for current and future generations by weeding out waste, fraud and abuse;
* Lowering prescription drug costs for seniors by closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole”, which causes Medicare beneficiaries to pay extraordinary costs or even skip their life-saving medications;

* Improving the way our health care system pays our nation’s physicians to reward them for providing high quality, coordinated, preventive care; and

* Helping Americans plan for the future long-term care needs and get services in their own homes to help them stay out of nursing homes.

“Health reform is critically important and urgent for our members and all older Americans. We are encouraged by the progress being made, and we encourage Congress to keep moving forward.”

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 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of 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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