Stillwater News Press

Health & Environment

August 15, 2009

AARP: Health-care critical

AARP believes health care is not a Democratic or Republican issue. As debate on health reform has intensified, we have seen the rhetoric increase from groups who want to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics.

Let me be clear: AARP has been working with both sides of the aisle – Democrats and Republicans -- for the last two years to build political support to fix our broken health care system. AARP has not endorsed any comprehensive health care bill. We have endorsed bipartisan bills that would: create a pathway for generic biologic drugs for patients with diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS; close the Medicaid Part D coverage gap, including a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to provide drugs at a discount for those in the doughnut hole; and create a Medicaid Transition Benefit to prevent costly hospital re-admissions.

We would like to strengthen and improve Medicare by closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole,” ensuring patients’ access to their doctors and eliminating fraud and wasteful spending. We want to make sure all Americans can choose their doctor, their health insurance plan and where to receive care. AARP also believes it is essential that we end discrimination by insurance companies and prevent them from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or using age to price Americans age 50-64 out of affordable, quality health insurance.

AARP believes in responsible fiscal policy and we recognize that any final health care reform package should reduce the skyrocketing cost of health care, which in turn should reduce the federal deficit. The reality is the financial burden of health care will only get worse over time without action. If nothing is done, family premiums for employer-sponsored insurance will jump nearly 40 percent by 2012 and will almost double by 2016. The full cost will rise from an average of about $13,000 this year to over $24,000 in 2016. For Medicare beneficiaries premiums have doubled since 2000.

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