AARP CEO Reacts to State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–January 28, 2010.  AARP CEO A. Barry Rand released the statement below following to last night’s State of the Union Address by President Obama:

“AARP is encouraged by the President’s commitment to help older Americans get through the challenges of a rocky economy and a health care system that costs too much and leaves too many people behind. It’s clear that much work remains to help millions of older Americans who face tough challenges getting through today and preparing for tomorrow.

“While economic statistics point towards a rebound, Americans still need relief. We are encouraged by the President’s commitment to help current workers build their own lifetime economic security through the creation of the Automatic IRA, a low-cost, high-impact tool that would help tens of millions of American workers who do not currently have access to a retirement savings plan at work. As many Americans try to re-build retirement nest eggs, they deserve to know that lax financial oversight won’t lead to another economic meltdown. So we are pleased that the President called on Congress to enact measures, including the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would overhaul a failed regulatory accountability system.

“We would ask the President to go further to help Americans—particularly those nearing retirement or who already live on fixed incomes. In particular, we hoped to hear the President renew his request to Congress to provide immediate economic relief to help the 41 million Americans who depend on Social Security but did not receive an annual Cost of Living Adjustment for 2010.

“We are committed to helping put the country’s fiscal house in order because older Americans care about the legacy we’re leaving ours kids and grandkids. However, we need to make sure that any budget driven cuts don’t cause more harm than good, particularly when it comes to lifeline programs like Medicare and Social Security. Any recommendations from a proposed debt commission should require a full and open debate by Congress without fast-track treatment that short-circuits the accountability of representative government. Social Security and Medicare should not be viewed as piggy banks for deficit reduction.

“AARP is also encouraged by the President’s commitment to continue progress on comprehensive health care reform. As Washington turns its focus to the economy and job creation, we must not forget that access to affordable, quality health care is among the most important and personal economic issues for the vast majority of Americans.

“We have come too far to give up now on health care reform. Both chambers of Congress have passed comprehensive reform legislation—something neither had done before in our nation’s history—that would help tens of millions of Americans have access to affordable care while strengthening and protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits. AARP will continue to urge the Administration and Congress to enact health care reform this year that meets the priorities of older Americans by cracking down on insurance company abuses, especially those that deny affordable coverage based on age or pre-existing conditions; protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits; lowering drug costs for seniors by closing the Medicare ‘doughnut hole’ coverage gap; and helping people get the services they need to help them live in their homes and communities.

“We look forward to working with President Obama and members of Congress from both parties to work on the issues critical to our members and all older Americans. It’s time to find solutions that work for Americans who have done the right things, but still struggle to build a nest egg, find an affordable health plan or care for a loved one.”