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AARP holds meeting on election priorities

One of the most powerful lobbying organizations in America is promising to make affordable, quality health care and long-term financial security priorities in this election year.

AARP, which represents 40 million people ages 50 and older, held a town hall meeting called "Divided We Fail" on Wednesday in Moorhead. About 80 local residents attended.

The goal of the meetings, which have been held all over the nation, is to jump-start national conversations about these issues:

- Access to affordable, quality health care, including prescription drugs. AARP wants universal coverage that doesn't cost more than 10 percent of a person's income.

- More choices for long-term care, especially choices that allow people to maintain independence at home.

- Financial incentives to save for retirement and to keep working regardless of age.

"We need to find ways to address these without passing along the costs to our children and grandchildren," said Charles Reed, an AARP national board member.

Politicians have talked about affordable health care and the burden of saving for retirement for years but haven't yet developed workable plans, AARP leaders said.

"We can put pressure on elected officials and make sure this gets done," said Janis Cheney, the North Dakota state director.

AARP doesn't endorse candidates but will probe them for specific answers and share that information with members. They encouraged those at Wednesday's meeting to elect leaders who address the topics.

Roger Haglund of Moorhead attended Wednesday's meeting and said AARP's platform was a good start, especially the call for affordable health care for everyone.

"But I sort of wish they'd take a stand and offer solutions," he said.

Haglund recently retired from teaching math at Concordia College. There he taught students the Rule of 72, a way to demonstrate exponential growth.

Based on that estimate, health-care costs will double in seven years, he said.

"People just don't understand the seriousness of that," he said. "The current solutions are just nibbling around the issues. We have to control costs."

Other partners in Divided We Fail are Business Roundtable, Service Employees International Union and National Federation of Independent Business.