En español | SIOUX CITY, IA —Questions about increasing services to combat elder abuse, ensuring that preexisting conditions remain covered by health insurance and lowering prescription drug prices were front and center at an AARP forum here on Friday that featured four Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), author Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang fielded questions from moderators from the Des Moines Register and Radio Iowa and from AARP members. The two-hour event was the fourth in a series of five presidential candidate forums that AARP is sponsoring with the Register across Iowa this week. Saturday’s final session will be in Council Bluffs.
Public opinion surveys consistently show that health care is the top issue on the minds of voters — especially older adults. A 2018 AARP survey found that 84 percent of voters over 50 think it’s unfair to force Americans with preexisting conditions to pay more for their health care.
Tom Carroll, a 68-year-old retired pathologist and medical examiner from Sioux City, asked O’Rourke how he’d protect people with serious medical issues from runaway health costs.
“Cancer patients and survivors can't go back to the days before the ACA [Affordable Care Act ], when insurers would not pay above a certain amount, or charged outrageous premiums that were many times higher than a healthy person would pay,” Carroll told O’Rourke. “What would you do to make sure people with preexisting conditions like cancer will have access to the coverage they need at a price they can afford?”
“I’m going to sign into law ‘Medicare for America,’” O’Rourke said. “This is going to guarantee universal high-quality coverage and care for every single American without exception.”
O’Rourke said his plan would allow Americans to buy into Medicare while letting people keep private, employer-based or union-negotiated health insurance if they have it.
The other candidates at Friday’s forum also addressed this issue. Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan would eliminate private insurance, and Williamson and Yang support combining a public option with preserving private health insurance coverage.
Affording prescription drugs
The inability of so many Americans, particularly older adults, to afford the prescription drugs they need to remain healthy was on the minds of hundreds of AARP members who attended this week’s forums.