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