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Poll Shows Older Americans Worried About State of Health Care

Three prominent health care organizations released a poll Wednesday to try to boost their health care reform agendas just hours before President Barack Obama was set to address Congress on the issue.

The poll by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and seniors lobby AARP showed that, even after a summer recess dominated by anti-reform rhetoric at town hall meetings, Americans 50 and older are worried that the health care system is not sustainable.

About half of older Americans fear that there won’t be enough doctors and nurses to care for them, and two-thirds of those polled stated that they were at least somewhat concerned that the system limits their ability to see the doctor of their choice, according to the poll, which was conducted Sept. 4-7 by Woelfel Research Inc.

The poll “underscores the need for reform,— AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said during a conference call with reporters on the survey.

Hinting at the groups’ own agendas, LeaMond said that AARP does not support health care reform that would cut Medicare benefits, and an AMA representative reiterated her group’s support for including medical malpractice reform in a health care bill.

“We need medical liability reform to reduce the cost of defensive medicine,— former AMA President Dr. Nancy Nielsen said during the call.

She added that in the wake of the summer rhetoric, Congress and the president must “work fearlessly … to find common ground and achieve meaningful health reform.—

The fact that more than 45 million Americans do not have health insurance is “a moral stain on our nation,— Nielsen added.

Two-thirds of the poll respondents said they worry that someday they or someone they know may incur a health care cost that wouldn’t be covered by their insurance, while 87 percent of those polled said it is important for Medicare to “adequately— reimburse doctors so they continue to accept Medicare patients.

Rebecca Patton, president of the ANA, said that the nation is closer than ever to health care reform.

“It’s time to take bold action on health care reform,— she said.

When it comes to the Senate Finance Committee’s blueprint for health care reform legislation, LeaMond said that the AARP is still looking at it, especially for any potential cuts to Medicare.

However, she said, AARP’s members believe there is “substantial fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare program— and would support proposals to cut out the waste without hurting patient care.

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