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Talking to AARP About Health Care Reform

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The big news of the morning is the president’s partial retreat on the so-called “government option/public plan” (which could be just another in a series of head fakes on this subject), but even if this a real abandonment of the worst feature of Obamacare, my long interview with AARP’s legislative director David Cetner on yesterday’s program should encourage everyone to stay in the battle to defeat even the (very large) rump of Obamacare.

The transcript of the interview is here. The podcast is here. If you post an analysis of Mr. Certner’s responses, send me a link. Your comments on the interview can be posted at Hughniverse if you have subscribed.

I hope one of the Beltway analysts of the details of the various proposals gives Mr. Certner’s responses a thorough going-over, especially for their implications for Medicare services. Medicare seems to me to be in for a frightening-to-seniors top-to-bottom overhaul from which money will squeezed at every step not for the purpose of making Medicare fiscally sustainable, but in order to subsidize other experiments with our health cares systems, leaving Medicare truncated and still broke.

Mr. Certner says things like “preauthorization of MRIs for seniors” isn’t rationing, but if the preauthorization is declined or delayed, of course it is rationing. There’s a lot of slipperiness in his responses.

And of course there isn’t a lick of tort reform in the bill, no matter what Mr. Certner says to me.

Here is the article alleging huge funding of the former Axelrod firm by a broad coalition of Obamacare advocates. AARP is not named in the article but Mr. Certner’s ambiguous answer left me wondering whether AARP is in fact part of that coalition referenced by Kenneth Vogel.

I appreciate Mr. Certner’s willingness to appear and answer questions, but I reacted just as my audience did: There was very little candor here and a lot of evasion and defensiveness about AARP’s agenda and the impact on seniors.

Draw your own conclusions, but if I was covered by Medicare, not only would I have long ago signed the petition opposing Obamacare, I’d be forwarding the petition to friends and I’d be jamming my Congressman’s and senators’ phones with demands that this mess be shelved and a new bill begun –in the open, with robust tort reform, and with the objective of fixing Medicare first, not using it to prop up the path to single payer.

A final note: Mr. Certner refused to disclose for whom he had worked when he worked on the Hill. I found it very odd, but if anyone happens to know the answer to that, please send it along to


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