AARP Members to Congress: "Keep Promise on Rx Drugs."
Absent in the debate about adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare are the voices of older Americans.
Here is what we at AARP have heard: For our 35 million members and for virtually all older and disabled Americans, this is the most important health policy decision since the enactment of Medicare in 1965.
AARP members have lost patience with political stalemate. They tell us that the cost of meeting their pharmaceutical needs is becoming outrageous -- not just for the poor, but for most older and disabled Americans.
AARP members want Congress to keep their election promises and come together -- on both sides of the aisle -- to enact a benefit this year that is based on some common sense principles:
- Universal -- the benefit should be available to all on Medicare, not just to some;
- Affordable -- the out-of-pocket costs of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, should be attractive enough to provide a genuine incentive for enrollment; and
- Continuous -- every effort should be made to eliminate gaps in coverage and the benefit should be stable from year to year. Once people qualify and are eligible, their benefits should not stop after their expenses reach a certain point.
Older Americans recognize that Medicare prescription drug coverage is not our country's only priority. They understand that we have to meet other challenges overseas and at home. But they will not settle for a bill that simply replaces the high cost of drugs with the high cost of insurance -- including premiums, deductibles and co-pays that they can't afford. Congress must pass a meaningful prescription drug bill now.
Curtis Cook, AARP Interim State Director