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Statement by AARP CEO Bill Novelli on the Passage of Medicare Prescription Drug Bills in Congress

The passage of Medicare prescription drug bills in the House and Senate clearly mark progress toward the most significant milestone in Medicare since its creation in 1965. Many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have worked hard to get to this point. But no one should declare this a final victory.

The benefit in the two bills is, at best, incomplete and some aspects of the new structure are problems. AARP will continue to work to improve this legislation to ensure a final bill that our 35 million members and their families, and all Americans can support. We are committed to doing everything we can to enact the best bill possible this year.

The legislation does not yet fulfill the pledge to provide stable and affordable drug coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries. Members of Congress have heard from tens of thousands of AARP members who are concerned about many aspects of the bills, including complexity, gaps in coverage, means testing, premium support and protection of current coverage, including retiree coverage provided through former employers.

AARP is fully committed to working, not just in 2003, but well beyond, to enhance the prescription drug benefit until it provides true health security for older and disabled Americans.

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