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AARP to Senators: Best Way to Hold Down Costs in Medicare is to Rein in Costs Throughout Health Care System

June 23, 2011

Media Relations

AARP to Senators: Best Way to Hold Down Costs in Medicare is to Rein in Costs Throughout Health Care System

WASHINGTON—AARP this morning submitted a statement to the Senate Finance Committee as it discusses the future of health care entitlements. As Congress works to confront the nation’s finances, the Association urges lawmakers to consider proposals that would save money without making harmful cuts to vital Medicare and Medicaid benefits that provide a lifeline for millions of older Americans.

Excerpts of AARP’s statement follow:

“Older Americans overwhelmingly believe that Medicare and Social Security should be ‘off the table’ for deficit reduction.  In fact, 78 percent believe that Congress should find ways to solve the nation’s deficit without making dangerous cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

On Medicare:

“Singling out the Medicare program – either for arbitrary cuts or for increased costs to beneficiaries – will not rein in overall health care costs. It will simply shift costs on to other payers of health care services, particularly beneficiaries and their families, and undermine current and future beneficiaries’ access to quality care.

“The best way to hold down costs in Medicare is to hold down costs throughout the health care system, with particular emphasis on delivery system reform.

“AARP encourages Congress to enact the longest possible resolution to the SGR problem.  We believe any solution should aim to emphasize value over volume, and take steps to promote better quality care.  Our members believe Congress has a responsibility to keep doctors in Medicare so today’s seniors and future retirees can keep seeing the doctors they trust.
On Medicaid:

“Medicaid is the nation’s largest payer for long-term care. Nearly a third of those turning age 65 will have long-term care costs that exceed their ability to pay and will need Medicaid assistance to help with LTC. 

“As Congress considers proposals to reduce spending in Medicaid, we want to ensure that Congress understands the importance of the program to older Americans and their families.  AARP is concerned that putting arbitrary caps on federal Medicaid spending could reduce access to and quality of care, such as reducing staffing in nursing homes, which could put the health and safety of seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

“Medicaid cuts could also reduce access to much needed, preferred, and cost effective home and community-based services. … And, on average, Medicaid can provide home and community-based services to three people for the cost of serving one person in a nursing home.

“Significant cuts to Medicaid cannot be made without harming individuals and families who rely on Medicaid for health or long-term services and supports, and these individuals include formerly middle income people who have had their life savings wiped out by the high costs of LTSS. 
On examples of savings Congress should consider:

“Prescription Drug Rebates for Duals:  AARP supports legislation (S. 1206) recently introduced by Senator Rockefeller and others that would require prescription drug manufacturers to provide rebates for drugs provided to Medicare Part D low-income subsidy beneficiaries, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.  This legislation is expected to save the Medicare program over $100 billion over the next ten years without negatively impacting Medicare Part D benefits. 

“Medicare Secretarial Negotiating Authority:  AARP supports legislation that builds upon the strong foundation of the Medicare prescription drug law by enabling the Secretary of HHS to use the bargaining power of Medicare’s 47 million beneficiaries to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.  

“Prescription Drug Reimportation: AARP supports the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act, sponsored by Senators Stabenow and Snowe, which would establish a framework for the safe, legal importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad.” 

For a copy of the full statement, please contact AARP Media Relations at (202) 434-2560.

For more information, visit

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership 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 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, 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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