AARP endorses plan for health care reform |

AARP endorses plan for health care reform

Carla Sloan
For the Nevada Appeal

After a lifetime of hard work, no older American deserves to spend their later years struggling with medical bills, foregoing or cutting prescription drugs to make them last or avoiding preventative or basic care because they can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs. That is why AARP has been fighting so hard to ensure older Americans are getting the health care coverage they deserve.

After carefully reading both the Affordable Health Care for America Act and the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act (HR 3962 and HR 3961), AARP’s all-volunteer national board has endorsed these bills because they meet the critical needs of older Americans and future generations.

For the more than 45 million Americans in Medicare – 320,000 in Nevada – the House plan makes prescription drugs more affordable by completely closing the dangerous gap in prescription drug coverage known as the doughnut hole, and allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to reduce prescription drug costs.

Right now, the law does not allow Medicare to negotiate prices, and the program must accept the prices given by the pharmaceutical manufacturers. The House bill changes that.

The bill also adds preventive benefits like free cancer screenings, cracks down on waste and fraud, protects the traditional Medicare benefits people in the program rely on and ensures seniors get access to the doctor of their choice or can find a new doctor when they need one.

For all Americans – including more than 70,000 uninsured Nevadans age 50 to 64 who often struggle to find affordable insurance – the House plan makes coverage more affordable by strictly limiting how much more insurance companies can charge based on age.

The House plan guarantees that you’ll never be denied affordable coverage because of your health or age. AARP has fought to prevent anyone from coming between you and your doctor; and we’ve fought to make sure your health care does not take a back seat to insurance company profits.

We are closely monitoring the ongoing debates and have made it clear to lawmakers we’re fighting for legislation that protects traditional Medicare benefits and holds down out-of-pocket costs. We vigorously oppose anything that would stand between individuals and their doctors or prevent any American from choosing the best possible care.

AARP supports common-sense solutions that will help put Medicare on more stable ground so it can save money and continue to provide good coverage for seniors and future generations of retirees and plans that will assure older Americans get affordable, quality coverage. The House plan does just that.

While AARP is pleased to see that the House plan includes many of the proposals that are most critical to protecting Medicare and ensuring Americans age 50 and older have access to stable, affordable health care, we know the fight isn’t over.

That’s why we’re going to keep working with members of the House and Senate to ensure our priorities are included in any final health care reform bill. We will fight with the strength of our nearly 40 million members against any proposal that would hurt rather than help Medicare or older Americans’ access to affordable, quality health care.

It’s time we had health care worth fighting for.

• Carla Sloan is the Nevada state director for AARP.