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AARP won't endorse Clinton health plan

Published Feb. 25, 1994|Updated Oct. 6, 2005

The board of the American Association of Retired Persons has decided not to endorse President Clinton's health plan, despite a concerted campaign by the president and Hillary Rodham Clinton to win support from the elderly, officers of the organization said Thursday.

First word of the decision came from administration officials, who said they were somewhat disappointed but not completely surprised. They noted that the board had not endorsed any specific alternative to the Clinton plan.

Meeting in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 21-member board stood by a statement issued in November that described the Clinton proposal as "the strongest and most realistic blueprint to date for achieving our goals." The goals include universal health insurance, cost controls, prescription drug coverage and a national program of long-term care.

The administration had sought a much stronger show of support from the organization, which has 33-million members. An endorsement would have been a boon to the White House after three major business groups withheld their endorsements earlier this month.

AARP leaders said health care reform is their top priority, but there was no clear consensus among members for a particular legislative proposal.

In an interview Thursday night, AARP president Lovola West Burgess of Albuquerque, N.M., said:

"The Clinton plan is the nearest to what we are looking for, but it falls short in a number of ways. We are concerned about the financing. We don't know if the proposed cuts in the growth of Medicare and Medicaid would provide enough money to help finance the president's plan. We fear that doctors would be less willing to see Medicare patients if their fees are cut.

"The Clinton plan makes a start on home and community-based care, but it leaves states to decide on financing, and if a state was short of money, there might be nothing for such care."

Health care legislation is just beginning what promises to be a tortuous journey through Congress.

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