Statement by AARP CEO Bill Novelli on Medicare and Medicaid Budget Proposals

AARP members are urging Congress to address two key areas of health security this year — adding an affordable drug benefit to Medicare and helping states maintain Medicaid coverage through current budget shortfalls.

Yet, instead of investing in our nation’s health security by providing this important relief, the budget proposal now before the House would reduce important resources. AARP is fundamentally opposed to the proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

Instead of squeezing needed resources from Medicare and Medicaid, we urge the House to adequately fund a Medicare drug benefit and provide temporary assistance for state Medicaid programs.

At a time when the focus should be on adding a meaningful drug benefit to Medicare, the proposed $215 billion in program cuts make no sense. These cuts are unrealistic and ultimately will not happen.

In addition, the estimated $93 billion in proposed Medicaid cuts will add insult to injury for millions of children, disabled and low-income Americans who are already facing the loss of needed health care services because of state budget shortfalls.

In contrast to the House plan, an amendment in the Senate would provide some temporary relief. AARP supports the Collins-Rockefeller amendment to provide states with $30 billion over 18 months, at least half of which will be used for temporary assistance for Medicaid.

When it comes to a healthier America, a Medicare prescription drug benefit is essential to help older and disabled Americans afford the medications they need. In addition, state Medicaid programs support the health and well being of our most vulnerable populations including children, the disabled and the elderly.