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Survey Finds AARP Members Back Health Care Reform Legislation

BOISE, Idaho, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll of AARP members released today finds strong support across party and ideological lines for elements of health care reform included in the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives. The AARP-backed bill limits how much more insurance companies can charge based on age and will close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole.

Among AARP members, strong majorities reported that many of the bill's key provisions were convincing reasons to support the legislation. These include strictly limiting insurers from charging much higher premiums because of age (68%), closing the gap in Medicare's prescription drug coverage known as the doughnut hole (69%) and improving coverage for critical preventive services like cancer screenings (77%).

"This survey demonstrates what we've been hearing from our members for a long time," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "Despite an inflammatory debate on a very personal and important issue, our members support health care reform that protects Medicare, lowers the price of prescription drugs, increases their access to coverage and protects their choice of doctors."

While a partisan divide was evident when respondents were asked about the current plan in Congress, AARP members supported the legislation by more than a 2-1 (63%-30%) margin. More than half of self-described independents indicated support for the plan.

Other reform elements with high levels of support among AARP members included ensuring Americans can see the doctor of their choice (76%), stopping insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person's health history (75%) and ensuring Americans can keep their current coverage (78%). Majorities of self-identified Republicans supported most of the reform elements presented, including stopping discrimination because of pre-existing conditions (66%), covering routine preventive care (64%) and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices (64%).

"The bill recently passed by the House incorporates the reforms that our members care most about. We'll continue the fight for these critical elements as the Senate takes up its own legislation in the coming weeks," added Wordelman. "Our members, and all older Americans, are counting on lawmakers to reform the health care system this year."

Starting on Tuesday, November 17th, AARP will launch a new national television ad on a mix of news, lifestyle, cable and sports channels. The ad, entitled "HELP," demonstrates that people from all walks of life are feeling stranded by the current health care system. It calls attention to the need for the kind of health care reform AARP has been fighting for: reform that will put patients first, protect Medicare, bring down drug costs and ensure that no one can be denied affordable health care because of their age or health history.

AARP surveyed its members on key health care reform provisions supported by AARP, as well as other contentious issues being discussed in the debate. The telephone survey, fielded October 30 to November 8, 2009, was conducted with randomly selected members of AARP. The nationally representative sample of 803 AARP members has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.


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