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Reaction to the State of the Union Address by AARP CEO Bill Novelli

The President said, "Medicare is a binding commitment of a caring society." AARP agrees.

During the last election, candidates from both parties promised older and disabled Americans prescription drug coverage in Medicare. The news that the President has made this a priority is an important step in fulfilling that promise.

AARP firmly believes that affordable prescription drug coverage must be available to all beneficiaries. We intend to work with both parties and the Administration to enact a Medicare prescription drug benefit this year.

In the absence of a Medicare drug benefit for all, many states have stepped in to help those most in need. But states are now facing budget crises. We urge the President to provide some help to state Medicaid programs now at risk.

In speaking about Social Security the President promised younger workers a chance to invest in private accounts they will control and own. AARP supports the idea of individual accounts to help people save for retirement and to improve their economic security in later life. However, these accounts should be in addition to, not instead of, Social Security's guaranteed benefit.

Recent stock market trends and shrinking pensions only reinforce the importance of Social Security's lifetime protection.

Strengthening Medicare and Social Security are central to sustaining the health and economic security of AARP members and their families.

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