Fighting for You on Health Reform
> AARP has been a strong advocate for health care reform
for more than 50 years—ever since our founder discovered a
fellow retired teacher living in a chicken coop, getting by on
a meager pension with no health care.
From that moment, AARP has fought for health
care reform and health security on our members’
behalf. We began 2009 determined to achieve
this priority, and ended the year closer than ever:
both the U.S. House of Representatives and the
U.S. Senate passed bills that would help 50+
Americans get the health care they need.
Early in the year, thousands of personal stories
shared by AARP members helped Congress, the
White House and the news media understand
the urgent need for reform. Keeping up the
drumbeat for action was Divided We Fail (the
health and financial security initiative involving
AARP, Business Roundtable, SEIU and National
Federation of Independent Business).
AARP members have been hit hard for years
by rising health costs and fragmented care
– sometimes in different ways. Medicare-eligible members were most concerned about
prescription drug price hikes and access to the
physician of their choice. The remaining half of
our members, who are too young for Medicare,
said finding or affording health insurance due to
job loss or a pre-existing medical condition was
In May, AARP announced six specific elements
that must be part of health reform, including
closing the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in
the Medicare Part D drug benefit and ensuring
that 50- to 64-year-olds have access to affordable
health care choices.
AARP elevated these issues through the most
extensive grassroots campaign in our history.
(See page 11 for details.)
The health reform debate was not without
controversy. Not everyone was happy with
our position. But we found common ground
among a broad segment of our membership
for what they wanted and needed. Then AARP
worked vigorously with elected officials from
all political stripes to achieve those health care
Both houses of Congress held dozens of public
hearings to gain public input, then drafted
numerous bills. AARP’s all-volunteer Board of
Directors carefully weighed the pros and cons of
these legislative proposals. (See next page.) Our
legislative and policy experts read and analyzed
every page of the major bills.
In early November, with members’ needs and
wishes squarely in mind, the Board decided
to endorse the U.S. House of Representatives’
health reform legislation, which contained critical
priorities AARP had been fighting for.
The House plan, which passed November 7,
included many of AARP’s priorities. The bill
• Protect and strengthen Medicare. Once and
for all, the House bill would lower costs for
millions of seniors by completely closing the
dreaded Part D “doughnut hole” gap. It would
also offer free preventive services, such as
cancer screenings, and crack down on waste and
fraud to protect traditional Medicare benefits.
Medicare beneficiaries discussed the benefits of
these provisions in a series of videos created by
Seniors to Seniors, a coalition of organizations
that included AARP.