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Gibbs: Obama Misspoke in Saying AARP Backs Health Care Bill

The White House acknowledged Wednesday that President Barack Obama misspoke Tuesday when he said AARP had endorsed health care reform legislation.Obama, who made the comment at a town-hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., meant to say that AARP was generally supportive of “comprehensive reform” and backs a deal between drugmakers and the Senate Finance Committee for the industry to provide $80 billion to fund legislation and drug purchases under Medicare, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Obama was responding to a question about supplemental Medicare insurance that many seniors purchase to fill gaps in drug coverage. The president used the question to address charges that health care overhaul legislation he backs would harm Medicare.“First of all, another myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits,” Obama said. “We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, OK?”The comment provoked a rapid response from AARP Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson.“While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate,” Nelson said in a written statement.“AARP supports specific measures that would help older Americans and their families — including bipartisan proposals to create a new follow-up care benefit in Medicare that would help prevent hospital re-admissions, as well as to address the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the ‘doughnut hole,’” he said. “We also support the need for lawmakers and the Administration to act this year to fix what doesn’t work in the health care system.”Meanwhile, Gibbs said Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will be present at a town-hall meeting Obama plans to hold Friday in the Bozeman, Mont., area, but he said Baucus will not participate in the event. Baucus is spearheading talks among a bipartisan group of Finance Senators trying to negotiate a health care deal.The president has been pressing Baucus to try to wrap up his panel’s discussions on health care legislation as soon as possible.

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