In a letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins outlined AARP’s priorities for Americans 50 and older, calling for protection of Medicare and Social Security as well as access to affordable health care and prescription drugs.
“Throughout the [election] campaign, your statements on these important issues of health and financial security set you apart from many other candidates,” Jenkins said to Trump in a letter released Tuesday. “Now, as you assume office, older Americans are looking to you to protect them from efforts to cut their benefits, increase their costs or otherwise harm the crucial programs they rely on.”
AARP members believe Medicare and Social Security should be strengthened for future generations, Jenkins wrote. “Unfortunately, some congressional leaders have discussed plans to fundamentally change the Medicare program and undermine the contract made with generations of Americans,” she wrote.
The letter cites congressional proposals to fundamentally change Medicare by creating a defined-contribution “premium-support” system, which would give recipients a fixed amount, in the form of vouchers, to buy private health insurance. Other proposals would raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67 and allow hospitals and providers to charge higher prices than Medicare.
“These proposals do little to actually lower the cost of health care,” Jenkins wrote. “They simply shift costs from Medicare onto individuals — many of whom cannot afford to pay more for their health care.”
To confront continued huge price spikes for prescription drugs, AARP backs proposals to give the secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to negotiate lower prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. “In addition, we agree with you that we should reduce barriers to better pricing competition worldwide by allowing for the safe importation of lower priced drugs,” Jenkins said.
She noted that provisions of the Affordable Care Act have helped millions of 50-and-older Americans. These include a ban on excluding consumers because of preexisting health conditions, a ban on lifetime and annual coverage limits, and restrictions on charging older Americans more for insurance than younger people.
Jenkins also urged Trump to protect millions — including low-income elderly people — by fending off efforts to cap Medicaid funding. She asked the incoming president to ensure that “home and community-based services be available to individuals in the same way they can access nursing home funding.”