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Fixing the Safety Net: What It Will Take

Monday, October 8, 2007

We agree with Robert J. Samuelson's assessment ["Escaping the Budget Impasse," op-ed, Oct. 3] that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need to be strengthened for future generations. But he doesn't take into account the full picture, and his list of "only four" solutions ignores a more important fifth remedy -- controlling the skyrocketing costs throughout the health-care system that drive spending on these programs.

As Congressional Budget Office Director Peter R. Orszag recently noted, "The long-term fiscal problem truly is fundamentally one involving the rate at which health-care costs grow and much less about the aging of the population."

We agree with Mr. Samuelson that the issues are complex and the solutions difficult. Real solutions will involve answering difficult questions and making trade-offs. AARP is prepared to discuss all these trade-offs and bring them to the American people. That is why we have committed our resources and voice to Divided We Fail, an innovative effort with the Service Employees International Union and the Business Roundtable to challenge political leaders and candidates to propose answers to the most important issues facing all Americans -- lifetime financial security and affordable health care.

We have our "skin in the game." We will continue to demand that political, corporate and other leaders work to address the challenges that have been neglected for too long.

BILL NOVELLI

Chief Executive Officer

AARP

Washington

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