AARP CEO A. Barry Rand today sent a letter to every member of the U.S. Senate. In his letter, Rand urged senators to promptly pass the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 without amendments. Rand highlighted provisions in the legislative package that would address key priorities of AARP members and all older Americans. These provisions include closing the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," making coverage more affordable for American families, and fighting fraud, waste and abuse in health care.

In his letter, Rand noted that the Senate's vote on the bill will be an "AARP Key Vote." The Association will be tracking how Senators vote and reporting the results back to its members and all Americans. The complete text of his letter follows:

Dear Senator:

We have made enormous progress advancing historic, urgently needed health care reform legislation, but we are not done yet. We now urge you to promptly pass the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 -without amendments - to help make affordable, high quality health care available to all Americans. 

The Reconciliation Act will:

- Close Medicare's dreaded "doughnut hole" drug coverage gap for all beneficiaries. This is a top priority for AARP because it helps older Americans afford drugs they need to stay healthy and avoid costlier treatments.

- Make coverage more affordable for hard-working middle-income families who now too often are uninsured because the cost of coverage is beyond their modest means. Added help is vital to meet the public's demand for coverage that is truly affordable for all Americans.

- Further strengthen our fight against fraud, waste and abuse, a key component to better controlling rising costs in our health care system. 

- Improve Medicare's fiscal health and extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund. 

These provisions build on the solid foundation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the Senate passed in December. These two bills together will protect and strengthen Medicare's guaranteed benefits, eliminate barriers to prevention, and crack down on insurance company abuses, such as denying affordable coverage because of age or health status and setting arbitrary caps on how much care they will cover. The legislative package will also provide affordable coverage options to millions of Americans and small businesses, help Americans to better plan for their future long-term care needs, and receive services to help them remain in their own homes and stay out of costly nursing facilities.

We, like you, hear countless stories from our members who were denied coverage or cannot afford their prescriptions or insurance premiums. Health care remains among the most important and personal economic issues for the vast majority of Americans.

Health expenditures consume roughly one sixth of our economy today, and will reach 20 percent in seven years if current trends continue. These skyrocketing costs strain the budgets of families and businesses as well as the government - crowding out other priorities - as health care costs continue to grow 2-3 times faster than general inflation. That is why all the major health care stakeholders have come to the table to solve this unsustainable situation. 

Delay will only mean more Medicare beneficiaries will not be able to afford the drugs they need. Millions of our family members and neighbors will not be able to afford the coverage they need. Billions of additional dollars in uncompensated care costs will unfairly shift to those who do have coverage. More individuals will impoverish themselves to get the health care they need. Skyrocketing costs will continue to strain even more family, business, and government budgets.

AARP therefore urges all Senators to vote in favor of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Both the economic and physical health of our members, their families, and our nation are at stake.

Because AARP members have a strong interest in how their elected officials vote on key issues, we will be informing them about how their Senators vote on this important issue. 

Addison Barry Rand


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