Video of AARP staffer telling "members" to take a flying leap last August
The so-called American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has endorsed the House health care bill in a move that stabs its millions of senior citizen members in the back. Why? So that AARP can sell more insurance policies -- its biggest source of revenue, that's why. From the Chicago-Tribune:
Why else would the nation's largest lobbying organization, sworn to protect the interests of senior citizens, watch silently as Congress plans to cut Medicare spending by $400 billion to pay for its health reform legislation? Could it be that the interests of seniors and AARP are not exactly aligned?
Let's follow the money. AARP takes in more than half of its $1.1 billion budget in royalty fees from health insurers and other vendors that market services with the organization's name. Medicare supplementary policies, called "Medigap" plans, make up the biggest share of this royalty revenue.
AARP has an interest in selling more, not fewer, Medigap plans, of course. But there is a competitor on the block.
A growing number of seniors are enrolling in a new form of Medicare coverage Medicare Advantage where they don't need Medigap.
Congress' health reform bills would cut spending for Medicare Advantage by at least $150 billion. President Obama has singled out Medicare Advantage, saying it is a give-away to private insurance companies. But virtually all of the extra money goes back to seniors in the form of better benefits, so it's seniors who have the most to lose.
AARP is endorsing a bill that will deliver a huge blow to Medicare -- one that will lead over time to fewer doctors accepting Medicare, longer waits for seniors, and an inevitable decline in accessible quality care -- so that AARP can make more billions of dollars selling Medigap insurance.
Where does all that money AARP rakes in from insurance and other products it sells go? Beats me, although the pretense that AARP is a "lobby" for seniors can no longer be used as the rationale for its enormous budget. As they've proved time and again, older folks are well able to do their own lobbying by contacting their representatives and voting for candidates that fight for their interests. And seniors are very much aware of how much they stand to lose under health care "reform," as virtually every poll has shown for months.
AARP is not a membership organization in any sense. It's a self-appointed service entity -- sort of like AAA -- that peddles products with coupons and discounts for its "members." The "members" did not vote on AARP's endorsement of massive cuts in Medicare (does anyone really doubt the outcome if they had been given that opportunity?). As an AARP member, you don't even get to elect delegates to some representative body or the group's top leaders, like many unions and professional organizations. In fact, you can spend all day navigating AARP's elaborate website and you won't even find a mechanism to send the group an email to protest! (On the other hand, you can easily sign up for "action" to back the group's stand on health care.)
I think AARP has just managed to destroy its reputation as a non-partisan representative of the interests of senior citizens. The group's huge staff need not worry about losing their phony baloney jobs, though. They can always start selling memberships to 45 year olds. Why not 35 year olds, come to think of it? Those coupons and discounts might look just as good to people of any age.
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