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Press Briefing Opening Statement by AARP CEO Bill Novelli

I am serving on the newly formed National Commission on Quality Long-Term Care, We are continuing our commitment to ensure that Americans have access to the services and support they need.

Yes, the nation is growing older, but demography is not destiny, and not the big problem. Medicare, Medicaid and private and employer-provided coverage are all in jeopardy due to soaring medical costs. This is making health insurance unaffordable for individuals and inducing employers to terminate or reduce coverage for workers and retirees.

Over 45 million Americans—including many working men and women—currently lack health insurance, due in large part to the high cost of coverage. The entire health care system faces these pressures, and health care reform must be addressed as a whole. This is the big one. The most significant step we can take as a nation is to bring health care costs under control.

We don't have any silver bullets for how to do this, but we are working in the National Coalition on Health Care and via our own social impact agenda to help bring this about.

While some of the things I talked about will play out in 2005, others will not be achieved in a single year or a single Congress. But these are all large scale, urgent priorities to which we are committed. It is going to be a very challenging year. We look forward to working with the administration, with the House and Senate, with the states and with others to make progress and to create a society where all Americans can age with dignity and purpose.

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