AARP Corrects Obama: It Has Not Endorsed Health Care Reform Package

By Fred Lucas | August 12, 2009 | 1:29 PM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks at town hall meeting about health care, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009, at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( - The AARP, the nation’s largest advocacy group for seniors, corrected a statement by President Barack Obama yesterday that indicated the group was “endorsing” the health-care plan being developed in Congress
During a town hall forum in Portsmouth, N.H., Obama tried to downplay growing unrest among seniors concerned about their Medicare benefits and a provision that would pay for end-of-life counseling in the health care reform packages being developed by Congress.  In this context, Obama said AARP is “on board” with the plan and was “endorsing” it.
“We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors,” Obama said at one point.
“Well, first of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not,” Obama said later. “AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”
AARP Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson issued a statement saying that the organization has not endorsed any legislation.
 “While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate,” Nelson said.
AARP does support measures to reform health care, Nelson said, but has not endorsed the bills being crafted in Congress.
“AARP supports specific measures that would help older Americans and their families--including bipartisan proposals to create a new follow-up care benefit in Medicare that would help prevent hospital re-admissions, as well as to address the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the ‘doughnut hole,’” said Nelson.
Nelson said the organization would like to see health-care reform legislation passed this year.

“We share the President’s commitment to act this year, and our members appreciate his insistence that any final reform package will not reduce Medicare benefits for the millions of people that literally depend on that program as a lifeline,” Nelson said. “We look forward to working with leaders of both parties, including the President, to build a final package we could endorse that addresses the concerns of the 50-plus population and brings quality, affordable health care choices to every American.”