AARP Announces Support for Senate Health Reform Bill

For decades, Americans have talked about fixing our broken health care system.  Presidents from Truman to Nixon to Clinton have attempted and come up short.   Now, though, we’re far closer than ever before to signing into law real health insurance reform – reform that will give insured Americans unprecedented stability and security, make quality, affordable insurance available to every American,  and lower costs for American families, businesses, and the country as a whole.

And today the health insurance reform effort gained even more critical momentum as the AARP announced that it is supporting the Senate reform legislation. 

This announcement is truly a big deal.  For decades, the AARP has been on the front lines of the fight to cut health care costs and improve coverage for America’s seniors.  They're supporting the passage of this bill because they know it will do just that.  It will add years to the life of Medicare, reduce out of pocket costs – including for preventive care and prescription drugs – and ensure higher quality care for our seniors.

"This bill will strengthen Medicare by eliminating cost barriers to preventive care, reform Medicare's payment and delivery system to promote care coordination, and reduce hospital infections and preventable readmissions," AARP CEO A. Barry Rand wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  “Moreover, through critical insurance market reforms and the establishment of exchanges, this bill will give the uninsured and small businesses access to quality affordable plans. The legislation also includes important provisions to strengthen home and community-based care and to assist individuals in saving to meet future long-term care needs.”

But the AARP’s support doesn’t just say a lot about what the bill will do.  It says a lot about what the bill won’t do.  It reaffirms that, for all the scary myths being spread by defenders of the status quo, nothing in reform will cut the Medicare benefits that have been guaranteed to America’s seniors.

It's safe to say that the AARP would not be supporting reform if it wasn’t a good deal for seniors.

Here's the money quote:  "With your commitment to closing the doughnut hole in conference, consistent with the President's pledge, and the many positive features referenced above, AARP is pleased to support your efforts to obtain cloture, and urges timely passage of this legislation by the Senate."

So next time you hear the usual scary stories, it’s worth keeping this announcement in mind.

Here’s the full letter:

December 14, 2009

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-221, Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Leader Reid:

Thank you for your commitment—and that of Chairmen Baucus and Dodd—to closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap or “doughnut hole” by 2019 during the upcoming House-Senate conference committee on health reform legislation. We understand, given Senate constraints, that this action must wait until conference.

As you know, millions of seniors are being overwhelmed by skyrocketing out-of-pocket drug costs. Too many are going without the drugs they desperately need, which can lead to more serious health problems and higher long-term costs—both for them and for our health care system as a whole. In Nevada alone, 12 percent of those enrolled in Part D fall into the doughnut hole every year. For these reasons, closing the coverage gap is a critical element of health reform and will help to constrain costs throughout the system.

We appreciate your leadership in developing and advancing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate. This bill will strengthen Medicare by eliminating cost barriers to preventive care, reform Medicare’s payment and delivery system to promote care coordination, and reduce hospital infections and preventable readmissions. Moreover, through critical insurance market reforms and the establishment of exchanges, this bill will give the uninsured and small businesses access to quality affordable plans. The legislation also includes important provisions to strengthen home and community-based care and to assist individuals in saving to meet future long-term care needs.

With your commitment to closing the doughnut hole in conference, consistent with the President’s pledge, and the many positive features referenced above, AARP is pleased to support your efforts to obtain cloture, and urges timely passage of this legislation by the Senate.

We look forward to working with you in conference to finalize health care reform legislation that strengthens Medicare for current and future generations, and which ensures that all Americans can obtain affordable coverage—particularly those aged 50 to 64—who face the most difficulty securing coverage they can afford in the individual and small group markets.

Sincerely,
Addison Barry Rand

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's nearly 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director

JUMP TO: