SEATTLE - AARP took a bold step this month by endorsing the
Affordable Health Care for America Act, the health care reform bill
passed by the U.S. House. But are its members actually in favor of the
bill? AARP Washington surveyed more than 400 of them around the state and says the answer is 'yes' -- even across political lines.
The group has been criticized for endorsing the House legislation, primarily by those who say AARP profits from the sale of insurance policies to people over age 50. But Doug Shadel, AARP
state director, says the survey results show the endorsement is in line
with the views of Washington members, no matter what their political
"There is strong support among independents for this; strong support
among Democrats; and over 50 percent support in most provisions of the
law, even for Republicans in the state among our membership."
Much of the debate has centered around Medicare, the government health care program for those aged 65 and over. The view of AARP is that the House bill makes improvements to Medicare, and Shadel says most survey respondents agreed.
"Seventy-five percent of our members support allowing Medicare to
negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
Closing the doughnut hole, which is the gap in coverage for
prescription drugs - 70 percent of our members statewide support
closing it. And it just goes on and on from there."
Shadel says more than 70 percent of those surveyed also agreed that
insurance companies should not be able to restrict or deny medical
coverage based on a person's health history, and that people should be
able to keep their current doctors and current health insurance plans
if they want to. The survey was taken the first week of November.