WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–January 6, 2010. As the House and Senate begin work to merge their respective health care reform bills, AARP CEO A. Barry Rand today sent a letter on behalf of the association’s nearly 40 million members to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, outlining key priorities that any final health care reform package should include.
“On behalf of AARP’s nearly 40 million members, I congratulate you both for advancing comprehensive health reform legislation that will help older Americans get the health care they need,” wrote Rand. “As you work to merge the House and Senate bills, we urge the strongest possible package to protect and strengthen Medicare, stop insurance company abuses, control skyrocketing costs, and ensure older Americans have access to affordable, quality coverage.”
Specifically, Rand’s letter identifies key priorities, including strengthening Medicare and lowering costs by closing the “doughnut hole” prescription drug coverage gap; cracking down on a discriminatory practice that allows insurance companies to use age as an excuse to charge older Americans unaffordable premiums; and improving long-term services and supports that help people live in their homes and communities as they age.
Rand’s letter also urges lawmakers to enact other meaningful policies to help improve health care quality and access while lowering costs, which are contained in both bills. These measures include ensuring adequate subsidies exist to help make coverage more affordable, promoting prevention and rewarding quality rather than quantity of care. The letter also notes AARP’s concern with the Senate’s proposal to create a board to review payments in Medicare.
“[W]e do not support approaches, such as those suggested in the Senate’s proposed Independent Payment Advisory Board, that rely too heavily on the Medicare program to achieve cost-containment objectives,” wrote Rand. “AARP believes that the health care system, including Medicare, is inextricably linked, and if we are to truly solve the health care cost crisis for our children and grandchildren, we must consider public and private sector costs simultaneously.”
The letter also acknowledges and applauds the work already done in both chambers, and urges both the House and Senate to work together to create strong comprehensive health care reform legislation that helps all Americans with accessing affordable, quality health care.