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WASHINGTON — AARP CEO A. Barry Rand released this statement in response to the speech by the President addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges:
“Older Americans and their families know we must address our nation’s fiscal challenges, and they are prepared to support a balanced solution. AARP is committed to making sure our elected leaders understand the impact of their proposals on real Americans—not just budget tables. We appreciate the President offering his own framework, which reflects the understanding that the deficit cannot be fixed only through spending cuts. We look forward to getting more detail about the plan to ensure it follows through on the commitment of health and financial security for older Americans.
“We thank the President for joining leaders of both parties in recognizing that Social Security must be strengthened, but not in an attempt to reduce a deficit it did not create. AARP agrees that protecting and strengthening Social Security must be done on a bipartisan basis, and we welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation with our membership and all Americans about how to achieve that goal.
“We’re also pleased that the proposal seeks to improve the quality and lower the cost of health care for all Americans. We applaud the effort to crack down on waste and mistakes that cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The proposal recognizes that we can ease the pinch our members and all older Americans feel from rising prescription drug prices by increasing access to less costly generic drugs and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. We agree with the need to strengthen Medicaid without putting this bedrock program’s benefits at risk for millions of Americans.
“We also applaud the President’s commitment to oppose plans that shift costs to seniors, but we are concerned that some provisions of his plan have the potential to break that promise. Relying on arbitrary spending targets is not a good way to make health policy—especially when decisions may be left to the unelected and unaccountable. Instead of setting targets that could further jeopardize people in Medicare, we urge the President and lawmakers to build on measures that would lower health care costs throughout the health care system.
“AARP will continue to review the President’s proposal to determine the impact it would have on older Americans and their families. We encourage lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to begin a real effort to reduce the deficit while strengthening the bedrock programs Americans 50-plus and their families rely on.”