AARP believes any health care reform bill must address the following six priorities:
1) Guaranteeing access to affordable coverage for Americans age 50 to 64: Even before the recession began, the AARP Public Policy Institute found 7.1 million adults age 50 -64 were uninsured in 2007 – that is a 36 percent increase from 2000. Any proposal that covers 50 – 64 year olds must bar insurers from denying coverage and charging unaffordable rates based on age or health status; provide subsidies to people who need them and ensure access to plans that are affordable. AARP is calling on Congress to ensure any final health reform package provides people age 50 - 64 with a choice of quality health care plans they can afford.
2)Closing the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap or “Doughnut Hole:”The Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” is a major reason why nearly 20 percent of people who get their drug coverage through Medicare delayed or did not fill a prescription because of cost – higher than any other insured group. And under current law the hole keeps getting larger each year – it will double in size in 2016. AARP is calling on Congress to begin to close the doughnut hole so people are not forced to pay premiums while at the same time paying full cost for their drugs.
3) Lowering Drug Costs through Generic Biologics:Biologic drugs, which are used to treat serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, anemia, and rheumatoid arthritis, can cost up to $10,000 or more per month. Generic prescription drugs save consumers and health care providers billions of dollars each year, but unfortunately, no approved process for lower cost generic alternatives is available for biologic drugs. That’s why AARP is calling on Congress to pass the “Promoting Innovation and Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act” (H.R. 1427/S. 726), which will help make these life-saving generic biologic drugs much more available and affordable.
4) Reducing Costly Hospital Re-Admissions through a Medicare Follow-up Care Benefit:Follow-up care that would help people safely transition to home or another setting after a hospital stay will prevent costly, unnecessary hospital readmissions. The “Medicare Transition Care Act” (H.R. 2773) would provide a benefit that would offer the appropriate follow-up care needed to keep people out of the hospital. AARP is calling upon Congress to pass the “Medicare Transition Care Act.”
5) Long-Term Care (LTC): Developing a better system for LTC and people with chronic conditions would save money, improve quality of life for individuals who need these services, and better enable them to live at home. AARP is calling upon Congress to pass two bills that would improve access to home- and community-based services: the “Empowered at Home Act” (S.434), which would expand eligibility for services and provide states with additional federal money so more Americans could receive care at home and the “Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act” (H.R. 468/S. 245), which would provide training and support for family caregivers.
6) Helping Low-Income Americans: The “Medicare Savings Program Improvement Act” (H.R. 2716), the “Prescription Coverage Now Act (H.R. 1536)” and “Medicare Financial Stability for Beneficiaries Act (S. 1185),” are important bills that will help improve access to Medicare programs for low-income individuals. These bills will increase asset test limits so people who did the right thing and saved a small nest egg can still receive assistance; help pay premiums and limit out-of-pocket costs; and raise eligibility standards so more low-income Medicare beneficiaries can qualify for benefits. AARP is calling on Congress to pass these three bills.