Democratic Presidential Candidate Kucinich Issues Statement Regarding Tonight's AARP-sponsored Presidential Forum

Plans live-chat forum with supporters during and after

Sep 20, 2007, 01:00 ET from Kucinich for President 2008

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Democratic Presidential
 candidate and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich issued the following
 statement today regarding the Presidential forum in Davenport, Iowa tonight
 from which he was excluded:
     "AARP, the sponsor of tonight's Presidential debate on health care
 reform, was instrumental in the passage of Medicare Part D legislation
 which took price controls off what pharmaceutical companies charge
 Medicare. It ensured big profits for the industry and, at the same time,
 dealt Medicare a crippling financial blow. That action led to massive
 cancellations of AARP memberships by senior citizens.
     "AARP is one of the top lobbying groups in Washington, according to
 Open Secrets, exceeding Ford, GM and the NRA. In 2005, it spent more than
 $36 million on lobbying, second that year only to the U.S. Chamber of
 Commerce. Regrettably, some of those lobbying activities are increasingly
 aligned with for-profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.
 This year AARP signed an agreement with insurance giants Aetna and United
 Healthcare that will gain the organization more than $4 billion dollars
 over a period of seven years.
     "Is it appropriate for AARP to be sponsoring a Democratic Presidential
 debate on health care while excluding the one candidate who wants to
 dramatically change the system from which AARP profits mightily? AARP is a
 marketing arm of the for-profit insurance industry. They undermine
 Medicare, then drive their members to an array of products offered by the
 private insurance companies. Their mission is to keep private, for-profit
 insurance companies in control of the American health care system. One way
 to do that is to try to limit the discussion regarding health care reform
 options during a Presidential debate. Every candidate on the platform
 tonight is dedicated to preserving the for-profit health care system and
 their relationship to it.
     "Candidates who have received millions of dollars in contributions from
 the for-profit health care industry or whose financial interests are
 enhanced by the privatization of Medicare will be talking about their plans
 to preserve the role of for-profit companies at a forum sponsored by an
 organization expected to make $4 billion selling private health insurance.
 This is less a Presidential debate, than it is a carnival of special
 interests. AARP has changed. It used to advance the interests of the
 elderly. Now it advances the interests of pharmaceutical and insurance
     "I am the co-author of legislation (HR 767) establishing a national,
 not- for profit health insurance system that would cover all Americans,
 without premiums, deductibles of co-payments. No one would be denied
 coverage, and no one would be denied services.
     "Under the plans proposed by two of tonight's participants, Senator
 Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards, private insurance
 companies stand to make even more money because Americans would be forced
 to buy insurance coverage and the federal government would subsidize the
 insurers to make their policies more affordable. These plans would gouge
 the consumers and the taxpayers.
     "I'm not afraid to take on the insurance companies and the
 pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists and allies. Americans have an
 absolute right to quality health care without worrying about how to afford
 it. We spend over $2 trillion a year on health care, and we still have 47
 million people uninsured and another 50 million who are under-insured. If
 we took the profit out of health care, we would have more than enough to
 cover every American for everything.
     "No other candidate has the ability, the willingness, or the political
 independence to tackle the real problem. This may be the one time that
 being denied a seat at the table is a badge of honor.
     "A New York Times cartoonist once referred to AARP as the 'American
 Association of Republican Politicians.' Tonight's Democratic Presidential
 debate should be watched with that in mind."

SOURCE Kucinich for President 2008