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Statement by AARP CEO Bill Novelli on AARP and United Healthgroup's Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Offering

AARP 's commitment is to improve the quality of life for older Americans. An important part of this is to assist those who need help with the high costs of prescription drugs. To help those in the Medicare program, we will work with UnitedHealth Group (United) to offer an AARP Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Medicare Part D).

The Medicare drug plans, which will be available in 2006, are one of several important steps to making prescription drugs more affordable for millions of Americans. AARP's current relationship with United in providing mail order pharmacy services, a Medicare discount drug card and other products, has served our members well. Currently, two million AARP members rely on AARP for prescription drug savings through United HealthGroup discount cards and Medigap policies that include pharmacy coverage. This partnership is a natural extension of a relationship that meets AARP members' need for high quality products and services.

Details of the AARP/United plan will not be known until CMS announces its approvals of Medicare drug benefit sponsors this September. But we are focused on developing an offer that is drafted to meet AARP's high standards, is simple in design, easy to use and brings real value to consumers. We intend to make this plan available in all 50 states and three U.S. territories.

Our primary responsibility concerning the Medicare prescription drug program will be to educate older Americans about how to use the drug benefit most effectively, regardless of which offering they choose. We are also working hard to inform limited-income beneficiaries about the added assistance that is available. Through AARP publications, our website, state offices, volunteers, community partners, and other resources, AARP is engaging in extensive education about all of the changes to the Medicare program including the new prescription drug plans.

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