AARP Applauds Senate for Progress on Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–November 18, 2009.  AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond issued this statement following today’s introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

“We applaud the Senate for merging the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees’ bills and taking another important step toward fixing what’s wrong with our health care system. Under the leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Senators Baucus, Harkin and Dodd, the legislation announced today makes progress toward achieving meaningful relief for millions of older Americans who still face challenges accessing affordable, quality health care services.

“The new Senate bill makes improvements to the Medicare program by creating a new annual wellness benefit, providing free preventive benefits, and—most notably for AARP members—reducing drug costs for seniors who fall into the dreaded Medicare doughnut hole, a costly gap in prescription drug coverage. Too often, those who fall into this coverage gap stop taking their prescription drugs because they simply can’t afford to. The new bill adds a new $500 down payment for prescription drug costs in the doughnut hole in 2010. While we welcome this extra help, we urge the Senate to go further to meet the President’s pledge to completely close the doughnut hole. With the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, we believe this bill should be improved so that it can help millions of older Americans afford their needed medications and avoid more intensive and costly care later in life.

“The bill also makes improvements on age-rating, a discriminatory practice that allows insurers to charge exorbitant, age-based premiums to older Americans. Under the new Senate bill, insurance companies will not be allowed to charge older Americans more than three times more than younger Americans for premiums. We hope the final bill can be improved even further in this area.

“Finally, AARP strongly supports provisions in the Senate bill to strengthen long-term services and supports. The bill retains the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, which recognizes that older individuals and people with disabilities should have the right to live independently in their own homes and communities, and to receive the help they need without having to spend down to poverty. We also applaud the inclusion of provisions to improve access to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS). Home and community-based care is widely supported by AARP members and is not only cost-effective, but can also help slow the growth in health care spending and keep millions of Americans out of nursing homes and in their own homes.

“The legislation put forward today is yet another milestone in the long journey to health care reform. We look forward to continuing our work with Senators on both sides of the aisle to further strengthen the bill, and we will continue to fight for reform that protects benefits for people in Medicare, improves health care affordability, and improves the health of every American.”

For more information on AARP’s health care reform effort, please visit http://www.aarp.org/health/articles/health_reform_get_the_facts.html.

 

Source: aarp.org