AARP: Budget Would Protect Seniors’ Access to Doctors For Two Years, but Unfairly Cut Home Energy Assistance

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–February 15, 2011.  AARP Executive Vice President Nancy A. LeaMond released the following statement in reaction to the Administration’s FY2012 budget request:

“AARP recognizes that the large federal budget deficit provides many challenges that we must address as a nation.  Our members believe it is important for the President and Congress to work together to find responsible budget solutions that emphasize the health and financial well-being of all Americans.

“We are pleased that the President’s budget would give millions of seniors in Medicare the peace of mind that they’ll be able to see their doctor by preventing drastic cuts in physician payment for two more years. Although we will continue to urge a long-term replacement for the current flawed payment system, preventing for two years the cuts that are driving doctors out of Medicare would help protect the critical doctor-patient relationship.  We will be carefully reviewing the Administration’s proposed funding for this patch, but are pleased that it includes improving access to lower cost generic drugs, such as by getting safe, generic versions of biologic drugs used to treat diseases like cancer to market faster.

“AARP is deeply troubled, however, by the disproportionately large cuts in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which would mean that millions of Americans, particularly older Americans, would have a hard time paying their heating and cooling bills next year.   With heating costs rising for many this past winter, cutting $2.5 billion from this program is unfair and potentially dangerous, and would mean that millions of households wouldn’t get the help they need to keep their homes warm in the winter months.

“Additional proposed funding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) is welcome news for the millions of Americans who rely on Social Security, including those facing a delay in disability claims, appeals and hearings.  The increased assistance is much needed for SSA’s field offices, which provide a critical role in local communities throughout the nation.  Apart from this budget conversation, we also have an opportunity to talk about the future of retirement security for Americans, and the critical role that Social Security will continue to play for Americans of all ages.”

“We are also pleased with proposals to make health care more accessible and affordable, such as by lowering prices on prescription drugs in the Medicare doughnut hole and making preventive available benefits free of charge, through implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“The coming budget debate must balance the serious challenge of putting our country’s fiscal house in order while also addressing the needs of millions of Americans who are struggling to find employment, strengthen their retirement nest eggs, and pay for rising health care costs.  AARP stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress on enacting a budget that would help us achieve, not sacrifice, the health and financial security needs of Americans.”