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Pundit, Heal Thyself: AARP Responds to Robert Samuelson


November 25, 2009

AARP Media Relations

Pundit, Heal Thyself: AARP Responds to Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON—AARP Executive Vice President John Rother issued this statement in response to Robert Samuelson’s November 23 syndicated Washington Post column, “Health ‘Reform’ That Burdens Our Young.”

“Pundit, heal thyself.

“In the latest salvo of his intergenerational war, Robert Samuelson defends age-rating, a discriminatory practice used by private insurers in the individual market to cherry-pick only the most profitable consumers by tying premiums to a person’s age.

“As a 63-year-old man with job-based health insurance, Mr. Samuelson enjoys ‘community-rated’ coverage that does not set premiums for him or his colleagues based on their age. Like most Americans with employer-provided insurance, he gets coverage without worrying about this or other roadblocks that base a person’s access to care on their gender and medical history.

“If Mr. Samuelson is willing to match his outrage with action, he could insist that his employer renegotiate its health plans to discriminate against his fellow fifty- and sixty-something coworkers. He could offer to reimburse his younger colleagues who have paid the same premiums and incurred, according to him, lower health care costs. Or, immediately, he could decline his employer-provided care and try his luck on the individual market.

“We’re guessing that Mr. Samuelson will keep what he has, and we stand by him.

“AARP believes that more Americans should enjoy the kind of affordable health security he has. We believe that he should not be discriminated against because of his age any more than a woman should because of her gender or a cancer survivor because of his health history.

“AARP understands that fairness is a fundamental American value, and any attempt at arbitrary discrimination runs counter to who we are. We hope Mr. Samuelson agrees.”

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 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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