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AARP Backs Health Reform Package: Would Deliver Needed Relief to Idaho

Saturday, March 20, 2010 Health Insurance News J E 4
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Urges Congressmen Minnick and Simpson to Vote in Favor of the Bill & Help Tackle the State's Growing Health Care Crisis

BOISE, Idaho, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of thousands of Idahoans unable to afford health care or struggling to pay soaring health care costs are watching Congress and hoping for relief. With a final showdown looming on health insurance reform legislation in Washington, D.C., AARP announced this morning it will back the bill containing key reform provisions, improving health care for older Americans and their families. AARP is urging Congressmen Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson to support the bill and help deliver relief to Idahoans.

"Too many Idahoans are forced to go without health insurance or prescription drugs because they are simply too expensive; this legislation brings us closer to helping them get quality, affordable health care," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "AARP is calling on Congressmen Minnick and Simpson to vote in favor of this bill and address Idaho's worsening health care crisis."

Idaho's health care crisis by Congressional District:

Rep. Minnick (District 1): 138,000 uninsured constituents; 11,600 older residents hit the Medicare Part D coverage gap ('doughnut hole'); many had to pay 100% of the cost for their prescription drugs and were forced to stop taking them due to cost; 1,500 health care related bankruptcies; and $95 million in uncompensated health care provided to people who lacked health insurance or couldn't afford to pay for it.

Rep. Simpson (District 2): 126,000 uninsured constituents; 9,400 older residents hit the Medicare 'doughnut hole'; 1,100 health care related bankruptcies; and $198 million in uncompensated care.

Idaho's statewide health care crisis:

Nearly 90% of uninsured adults in Idaho have jobs but cannot afford health care; nearly 30% of Idaho's Medicare beneficiaries are stuck in the prescription drug "doughnut hole" -- forced to pay 100% of the cost of their prescriptions, leaving many to skip pills or simply go without; over 100,000 Idaho residents spend upwards of 25% of their income on health care costs. According to a recent AARP survey, older Idahoans said high health care costs have an impact on their household budgets.

The legislative package cracks down on insurance company abuses and protects and strengthens guaranteed benefits in Medicare, the program over 213,000 Idahoans depend on. It closes the dreaded Medicare Part D 'doughnut hole.' The package stops insurance companies from pricing people out of coverage because they have an existing health problem or arbitrarily limiting the amount of care someone can receive. It also limits insurance companies' ability to charge higher premiums based solely on age. And it improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening the program for today's seniors and future generations.

"For every Idaho resident who has struggled without access to health insurance -- and for all those at risk of losing their current coverage with the next job loss, illness or premium hike -- this package presents the best hope to offer health security for them and their families," added Wordelman. "AARP urges Congress to seize this opportunity to improve health care so older Idahoans and their families get the care they need."

AARP members can see how their representatives voted on the health insurance reform package by going to www.aarp.org/governmentwatch. AARP's Government Watch is a one-stop online portal that will be tracking and publicizing every designated key vote on issues facing Americans age 50-plus. A "Key Vote Summary" highlighting votes on these issues will be published at the end of each congressional session.

SOURCE AARP Idaho
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