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Medicare Must Be Preserved and Strengthened

Medicare provides affordable health care for 60 million seniors. Hardworking Americans pay into the program their entire working lives and are guaranteed benefits. It’s a deal that must not be broken. Congress must keep the promise it made a half century ago so the American people may continue to live with dignity and financial security as they age.

That’s why earlier this year AARP successfully fought off drug company attempts to undo the law that closes the Medicare Part D doughnut hole a year early and lowers drug costs for seniors. AARP has also long opposed legislation that would reduce benefits or shift costs onto consumers, such as turning Medicare into a voucher program in which beneficiaries would receive a set amount of money each year for their health care. Vouchers would dramatically increase health care costs and risks for current and future retirees.  

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Challenges Ahead

Within eight years, Medicare won’t be able to pay full hospital benefits. Rising health care costs stemming from rapidly increasing prescription drug prices, new technology, and inefficient and uncoordinated care threaten Medicare and the entire health care system. Slowing down the rate of growth in costs is especially crucial for Medicare, as the number of enrollees is expected to increase by more than 20 million between 2018 and 2030.

People and their families must remain at the center of health care in partnership with providers, who must be held accountable for the cost and quality of care.

AARP Guiding Principles

As you consider a candidate, keep in mind AARP’s guiding principles on the Medicare program:

  • Guarantee coverage to older people and people with disabilities, regardless of their incomes or health status.
  • Guarantee affordable benefits that meet the needs of people with Medicare, which means no unaffordable premiums or cost-sharing. It also means exploring ways to expand coverage to important services like dental care and hearing aids.
  • Provide high quality and high value care that is right for each person.
  • Ensure all people with Medicare have access to health care through an array of enough qualified health care providers that are sufficient to meet the needs of beneficiaries.
  • Sustain Medicare for the future by reducing waste and fraud, and ensuring that its resources are spent wisely.
  • Enable Medicare to innovate and collaborate with the broader health care system. This means ensuring that Medicare can keep up with new ideas and technologies, and work with the larger health care system to help improve quality of care.

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