As you probably know, AARP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization for folks 50 and over, with 40 million members nationwide. There are 513,000 AARP members in Alabama. This organization works to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health and long-term care, and to control health care costs without compromising quality. Without a doubt, AARP does a tremendous job of protecting their members and other consumers who haven’t yet reached 50 years of age.
I am pleased to report that AARP fully supports Alabama’s efforts to protect its Medicaid funds. Its support is extremely important and is greatly appreciated. The organization recognizes that strengthening Medicaid is a vital priority for seniors. Medicaid is an essential foundation of the nation’s health care system, serving approximately 59 million vulnerable persons, or one in six of the nation’s population. Medicaid is also the largest payer for long-term care and is critical in redirecting care to the often more cost-effective home and community-based settings that older Americans prefer. Thus, although older and disabled persons make up just one-quarter of Medicaid enrollees, they account for 70% of Medicaid spending. This is why AARP can’t tolerate the drug manufacturers abusing the Medicaid program.
Having said all of this, it’s very easy to see why AARP has filed briefs supporting the State of Alabama in the cases against three drug manufacturers that are on appeal before the Alabama Supreme Court. In filing its briefs, AARP said it has a strong interest in Alabama’s cases because the practices challenged contribute to reducing access to affordable prescription drug treatments. AARP’s legal staff told the court in its briefs that affordable prescription medication is particularly important to the older people, who have the highest rate of prescription drug use because of their higher rate of chronic and serious health conditions. Because prescription drug spending has skyrocketed over the last fifteen years, thereby limiting access to medically necessary medicines for many people, AARP advocates for policies, laws, and other efforts that broaden access to prescription drugs. AARP’s leadership and its legal staff are 100% on board in support of the State’s cases against the drug companies. These companies have committed fraud against Alabama’s Medicaid program.
It’s most significant that AARP’s lawyers, after studying the record of testimony from the actual trial of the case, recommended to the leadership of AARP that a brief supporting the State be filed. That has now happened and AARP, on behalf of its Alabama members, is asking the Supreme Court to affirm the full verdicts against AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis!
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