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Healthcare reform has turned into a roller derby, AARP says

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The politics of healthcare reform is getting rougher as congressional leaders seek to combine two bills in the Senate and three in the House, says the political chief for AARP, the lobbying group for seniors.

“I feel a little bit as though this is now roller derby – very fast, lots of people, lots of elbows. And people are playing for keeps,” says Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP, a 40 million member political powerhouse.

“Every group is now assessing what is in these various packages and what must be there for them at the end of the day," LeaMond said, speaking at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters.

'The most partisan issue in recent memory'

One third of AARP members are Republicans, one-third Democrats, and one-third independents. Extensive polling among members shows healthcare “is the most partisan issue we have seen in recent memory,” LeaMond says.

When the Senate Finance Committee passed a health-reform measure Tuesday, only one Republican voted for it: Olympia Snowe of Maine. But the lack of Republican votes was politics, not policy, says John Rother, AARP’s executive vice president and strategy chief.

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