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Ohio Group "Mythbusting" Health Care Debate

September 16, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - While there are many important aspects to the health care reform debate, protecting Medicare is the top priority for the 65-plus set. AARP Ohio has kicked into high gear to ensure that any reform legislation protects Medicare benefits as well as the long-term security of the program. The group has mounted an ambitious information campaign, according to State President Joanne Limbach.

"We have mailed brochures to those who are 65-plus; we have provided 'tele-town' forums so that people can directly speak to members of AARP who have the inside information; and we also have a Web site where people can get information."

The first so-called "Tele-Town Hall" is today at 10:30 a.m.; AARP members can phone in to ask questions of their group's leaders. There are many concerns and myths to address, says Limbach, and the goal is to set the record straight. It's important that Medicare recipients have control of their own health care, she adds.

"We want to make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat comes between Medicare recipients and their doctors."

Limbach says it's essential to focus on Medicare because it is such a lifeline for many older Americans. Nearly one in six Ohioans is a Medicare recipient, and most recipients are age 65 or older.

"When they get to age 65, they sometimes breathe a sigh of relief because there's a program there for them. They no longer have to be counting on the private market, that is so unpredictable, to cover their health care needs."

Nationally, she says, AARP is also working with members of Congress on several health-related issues: lowering drug prices, closing the Medicare 'Part D' gap for prescriptions, and ending insurance discrimination based on a person's age and pre-existing conditions, to name a few.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH