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Saving the American Dream, Part II

Last month I wrote about restoring the American dream to people of all ages who find their health and retirement security eroding. I said that AARP is beginning a national program to make the changes needed for people to achieve economic security and get health care.

If we don’t do this now, the next generation will be the first in U.S. history to be worse off than their parents. Working together, we can make sure that doesn’t happen. We need solutions that:

  • Make affordable, quality health care available to all Americans.
  • Cut health care waste and inefficiency to get more value for what we spend. (There’s enough money in the system now to fix what’s wrong.)
  • Make affordable prescription drugs available to everyone.
  • Require clear, upfront explanations of health care costs and quality so we can make informed choices.
  • Make prevention and wellness programs a priority for a healthier America.
  • Provide affordable long-term care at home and in the community.
  • Strengthen Social Security to guarantee our children and grandchildren an adequate quality of life when they retire, without increasing the national debt.
  • Help workers save and have access to better retirement plans.
  • Widen opportunities so people can work and contribute to society longer.

Fortunately, AARP has the public’s trust, and we’ll use it to champion these changes. Recently, along with business and labor groups, we launched our program, “Divided We Fail.” We’ll add more organizations, representing nearly all facets of U.S. society.

But the key to success is you. AARP’s nearly 38 million members are a powerful force for change—in Washington, state capitols and corporate boardrooms. We ask you to do three important things. First, tell us your personal stories—your experiences and opinions about health care and retirement security. We’ll share them with public officials, the media and others to highlight the urgency of these issues and call for reform.

Second, visit our website,, to learn more and to join the campaign. And please, give us your ideas. What do you think ought to be done? What won’t work? Can we improve preventive care and chronic disease management? Cut hospital errors? Provide a payroll deduction savings plan in every business? Give us your best ideas.

Third, let political leaders know you hold them accountable. Send them letters and e-mails, ask them tough questions, let them know you’re paying attention and you care. This is especially important as the 2008 presidential election approaches. Accountability is key to our program. We must be prepared to say that candidates A and B have good health plans but candidates C and D do not. That will get their undivided attention. And believe me, we’ll get it. In the last election, 52 percent of voters were 50-plus, and half of those were AARP members.

Health and financial security form the foundation of the American dream. If we stand together, we can create a society where life is better for everyone. Did you notice that our website address (above) is “divided we fail”? That’s true, but it’s equally true that united we’ll succeed. Please get involved.