AARP Endorses Baucus Medicare Bill

America’s largest senior lobby today endorsed Sen. Max Baucus’ Medicare legislation aimed at preventing scheduled cuts to doctors’ reimbursement rates, saying it protects beneficiaries from unfair premium hikes.

“The bill’s improvements will directly benefit people in Medicare,” said AARP chief executive Bill Novelli.  “Physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries need to be paid fairly, however, for too long people in Medicare have seen their premiums unfairly rise as a result of stop-gap efforts to keep physicians in Medicare.  The bill offered by Chairman Baucus improves Medicare, keeps doctors in the program and does it all without unnecessary increases in premiums for people in Medicare.”

The endorsement comes after AARP blasted the bill’s broad outline several weeks ago for not doing enough for beneficiaries.

“We’re gravely disappointed at the outline we saw today that includes very little to protect Medicare beneficiaries,” AARP’s chief health lobbyist Kirsten Sloan said then in what is about as stinging of a rebuke as AARP publicly gives.

But Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, apparently made enough changes before he introduced the bill to make AARP happy.

The group has been pushing for months to ensure that the fix for doctors was not financed on the backs of beneficiaries. The Keep Medicare Fair campaign targeted at the Senate generated more than 500,000 phone calls, e-mails and petitions.
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