In response to the budget proposal released by the Obama Administration earlier this week, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond applauded protection for seniors' access to doctors, but raised concerns about disproportionate cuts to home energy assistance for low income Americans.
“The coming budget debate must balance the serious challenge of putting our country’s fiscal house in order," LeaMond stated, "while also addressing the needs of millions of Americans who are struggling to find employment, strengthen their retirement nest eggs, and pay for rising health care costs"
Controlling health costs is a concern of the government and cuts in Medicare payments to doctors had been discussed as a way to help strengthen the long-term viability of the program. However, drastic cuts in payments could keep doctors from accepting the Medicare coverage many seniors rely on. "Although we will continue to urge a long-term replacement for the current flawed payment system," LeaMond said, "preventing for two years the cuts that are driving doctors out of Medicare would help protect the critical doctor-patient relationship."
AARP raised serious concerns about the level of cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) could give millions of Americans, and specifically many older Americans who rely on this program, difficulty in paying their heating and cooling costs next year. "With heating costs rising for many this past winter, cutting $2.5 billion from this program is unfair and potentially dangerous," warned LeaMond. "It would mean that millions of households wouldn’t get the help they need to keep their homes warm in the winter months."
AARP's goal in the budget process is to encourage a balanced debate wherein Congress and the administration enact a budget that would foster, not sacrifice, the health and financial security needs of Americans.