AARP NY Key Vote News Alert: AARP Dismayed by Senate Vote to Block Medicare Improvement Bill

Bipartisan Package Would Have Improved Benefits for Prevention, Mental

Health and Low-Income Programs, Boosted Quality through National


Jun 12, 2008, 01:00 ET from AARP New York State

    ALBANY, N.Y., June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today a minority of
 the U.S. Senate blocked critical legislation to protect and improve
 Medicare for the 44 million Americans who depend on it. The Medicare
 Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, which would have improved
 Medicare's prevention, mental health, and low-income programs and
 instituted a national program for electronic prescribing, was blocked by a
 group of Senators during a procedural vote.
     Schumer, Charles X
     Clinton, Hillary*
     *Did not vote
     ** How a legislator votes on issues is only one factor in evaluating
 his or her legislative performance, which should also include such things
 as constituency services and committee work.
     "While we are disappointed by today's outcome, we applaud Senator
 Schumer for voting to improve Medicare and bring this bill to the floor for
 an up-or-down vote," said Lois Aronstein, AARP NY State Director. "This
 bipartisan legislation would have helped more Americans afford their health
 care bills while bringing our doctors' offices and pharmacies into the 21st
 century with e-prescribing. We look forward to continuing to work with
 Senator Schumer and his colleagues to pass a bill this month to improve
 Medicare and keep premiums fair for the 44 million Americans who rely on
 the program."
     Aronstein added: "We are disappointed that other Senators voted to
 block this Medicare improvement bill from open debate and an up-or-down
 vote on the Senate floor. This bill would begin to bring down health care
 costs for millions of Americans by boosting Medicare's prevention, mental
 health, and low-income programs and promoting e-prescribing -- one way to
 reduce harmful and costly medical errors."
     AARP has been advocating for several months to ensure that people in
 Medicare do not face an unfair increase in their premiums when Congress
 addresses physician payment cuts. AARP has also been advocating for
 improvements to Medicare, particularly the low-income programs, including
 raising asset limits, simplifying the application process and improving
 collaboration between Medicare and the Social Security Administration to
 screen people who may be eligible for low-income help and not know it. The
 bill brought up for a cloture vote today included all of these changes.
     The AARP initiative, titled "Keep Medicare Fair," to date has generated
 more than a half million phone calls, e-mails and petitions sent to Senate
 offices. As part of this effort, an AARP survey released May 19 found that
 of adults 50-plus, 81 percent oppose additional increases to Medicare
 premiums and 66 percent are less likely to vote for a Member of Congress
 who supports those increases.
     AARP notified the 110th Congress that it was tracking roll call votes
 on key legislation important to its 39 million members and reporting the
 outcomes of these votes back to its members. "We believe people make the
 right choices when they understand the issues and position taken by their
 elected officials. AARP intends to ensure that its members get that
 information," Aronstein concluded.
     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 33 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source
 for AARP's 39 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 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.

SOURCE AARP New York State