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Varner has presented at numerous national conferences and symposia on a variety of health care reform topics. Her publications have focused on health care coverage, consumer information needs, and long-term care. She also oversaw the development of AARP's draft proposal for health care reform, Health Care America. Between 1993 and 1995, she served as a consumer representative on the Institute of Medicine's Committee on the Future of Dental Education. She holds two master's degrees from the University of Alabama, one in social work and one in English literature.