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AARP: Facts Critical in Health Care Reform Debate

August 19, 2009

ABERDEEN, S. D. - Despite polling that shows a majority of Americans believe the nation's healthcare system is in need of a major overhaul, finding common ground for reform has been a daunting task for lawmakers. To that end, such organizations as AARP are working to lower the rhetoric with a series of town hall meetings that focus on educating the public.

Skip Humphrey, a national AARP board member, made a recent visit to Aberdeen to attend the town hall at Northern State University. He believes it is critical that people get a clear understanding of the issues based on facts - and just as important that they share their opinions with friends, family and lawmakers.

"Most of all, we want to see guaranteed access for affordable, quality healthcare for everyone - in particular those who are age 50 to 64, who all too often lose their coverage, either because they lose a job or they just don't have the coverage themselves. And it's nigh on to impossible to get that coverage, because they may have a preexisting health condition that knocks them out of the current system."

While some are expressing worries that the nation is heading toward a single-payer, socialized form of medicine, Humphrey points out there's nothing in the current language of any of the bills in Congress to do that. He remains confident that the public wants a new way of coming to grips with the nation's healthcare needs - a system that would be efficient, effective and provide coverage for everyone.

"Another thing we want to see happen is what's called a 'transition benefit.' That's for someone who has been in the hospital, is released and - all too often - ends up back in the hospital because there's no follow-up. There's no assistance to make sure that person is taking their 'meds,' doing the things that are necessary and keeping track of them. That's a very, very expensive way of handling healthcare."

The latest statistics indicate 47 million Americans are currently without health insurance. Unless changes are made, says Humphrey, costs will continue to rise and must be absorbed by the system - and by those who do have coverage.

David Law, Public News Service - SD