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AARP Thanks Senate for Passing Health Care Reform

Association looks forward to improving legislation in conference committee

ANCHORAGE, AK -AARP Alaska State Director Ken Osterkamp released this statement after this morning's passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The vote allows members of the House of Representatives and Senate to begin merging their respective bills and enact health reform legislation early in the New Year.

"With this morning's vote, the U.S. Senate has moved this country closer to essential health care reform and finally, millions of Americans have hope. This is important for not only the estimated 133,000 Alaskans who do not currently have insurance but the 52,000 Alaskans who would qualify for tax credits to help purchase affordable health coverage.

"Passage of the Senate's health care reform bill clears the way for Congress to enact legislation that will strengthen Medicare and restrict discriminatory insurance industry practices that keep those most in need out of the system.

"The bill passed by the Senate makes needed progress to prevent coverage denials due to health status and limit insurance companies from charging older Americans much more for coverage because of their age. 

"The bill passed this morning makes essential changes in preventing coverage denials. It will also begin to close so-called 'donut hole' in Medicare Part D. Closing the donut hold will help protect over 1/3 of Medicare beneficiaries from high drug costs.

"Further, the Senate bill adds significant new Medicare benefits, including free preventive care and contains new initiatives which expand access to home and community-based services and supports and more financing options to help them pay for these critical services. 

"AARP Alaska would like to thank Sen. Begich for voting 'yea' on this legislation. We are disappointed, however, that Sen. Murkowski decided to vote 'nay,'" concluded Osterkamp.

In Alaska, 40.4% of Medicare Part D enrollees face the full cost of the donut hole. In 2010, the size of the donut hole stands at $3,610. By 2016, it is projected to double to more than $6,000. A November 2009 AARP Public Policy Institute report found that the manufacturer prices of widely used brand name drugs and specialty drugs increased by 9.3% and 10.3% respectively between October 2008 and September 2009.

For more information on AARP's health care reform effort, please visit www.aarp.org.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.  We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's nearly 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org.  AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.  We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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