AARP hopes to see real health care reform

Published 9:31 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

This year AARP has been working with leaders of both parties to pass essential, bipartisan legislation that will provide older Americans access to affordable, quality health care.

We are aggressively working toward 1) protecting Medicare benefits, 2) ending discrimination based on age or pre-existing conditions, 3) lowering the costs of health care, including prescription drugs, and 4) eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.

While we have worked with Republican and Democratic leaders to ensure our 40 million members have the affordable health care choices they deserve, AARP has not endorsed the House Tri-Committee Bill or the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Bill.

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We continue to work with the House and Senate to promote our priorities.

We are serious about health care reform and are calling on our members and allies to ask their Congressional representatives to fix what is wrong and strengthen what is right with our health care system when they return to the Capitol this fall.

Here in Ohio, with our jobless rate at 11.1 percent, many of us know someone who lost health care coverage when they lost their job and now live one serious illness or accident away from financial ruin.

We need to make sure Congress knows we want them to negotiate and adopt proposals that will give Americans of all ages and incomes a choice of affordable health care plans that will not come between them and their doctors or prevent them from choosing the best care possible.

Many of us know an older Ohioan who is struggling to afford prescription drugs and to keep pace with increasing out-of-pocket medical costs.

Most Ohioans who rely on Medicare for coverage spend 30 percent of their income on health care expenses.

AARP is asking Congress to adopt real reform that improves Medicare by closing the Part D “doughnut hole” coverage gap and reduces drug costs, protects patients’ access to their doctors, prevents dangerous, costly and avoidable re-hospitalizations, and improves the quality of patient care.

Finally, the status quo is unacceptable. We need to convince Congress to move forward this year with a health care reform package that includes a mix of the best solutions from both parties and both houses of Congress.

AARP is counting on our members and allies to make it so.

Jane Taylor is state director for AARP Ohio.