November 20, 2012
The Shady Dealings of the AARP
By Pat Boone and Jim Martin
For many years, the AARP was a trusted voice of seniors across America. We believed, and rightly so, they were operating in our best interest, representing the issues and concerns of elderly Americans in Washington and across the 50 states. But sadly, those days are long in the past, distant memories as faded as scrapbook photos locked in an attic.
Today, the AARP is nothing more than an insurance conglomerate and lobbying behemoth, with annual revenues in excess of $400 million. Given the tremendous amount of revenue AARP generates selling health insurance, representing seniors has taken a back seat to having a seat at the table with Washington’s deal-makers. The bottom line is AARP gladly lines its pockets from sweetheart deals, while selling their own members down the river. AARP betrays seniors for the almighty dollar. The proof we offer for that assertion are the recently discovered emails where AARP members spoke out strongly against the so-called Affordable Care Act.
While AARP continues to maintain the charade they are a neutral party in the healthcare debate, they were instrumental partners with the White House and Democratic National Committee (DNC) in working behind the scenes to pass the Obamacare legislation that America’s seniors overwhelmingly oppose. When AARP switchboards lit-up with their members calling in to oppose Obamacare by a score of 14 to 1, did they care? Fat chance.
According to emails unearthed by Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-MI) Energy and Commerce Committee, AARP executives said they needed to “change the messaging.” To AARP, the problem wasn’t the bill itself, it was the marketing. They further refused the Administration’s invitation to advocate publicly for Obamacare, stating in secret memos, “polling shows we are more influential when we are seen as independent.” So AARP hides behind its good name while pushing for a healthcare overhaul that will reap it billions. How shameful.
With AARP standing to gain over $1 billion in additional revenues over 10 years with the passage of Obamacare, they put their insurance business and the almighty dollar first, and seniors were merely props for the stage show. The over $700 billion Obamacare cuts from Medicare is going to cause seniors to have to reach deeper into their wallets to make up the difference, and the AARP is only too happy to be the recipient of this windfall.
Typically membership organizations follow the wishes of their members, but AARP clearly has no interest in serving the seniors who pay their membership dues and buy their insurance products. AARP describes themselves as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization…that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole.” So why did they lobby to stop Medigap reform which would have saved seniors an average of $400 per year? Perhaps because AARP stands to gain nearly $3 billion.
As noted by Senator Jim DeMint’s recent investigation into AARP’s political activities, AARP currently dominates the Medigap market, yet thanks to their support for Obamacare, they received a waiver from the requirement that insurance companies can’t discriminate against pre-existing conditions. You read that right; as a reward for helping to pass Obamacare, AARP gets a pass on covering pre-existing conditions, which benefits them to the tune of billions while costing seniors more
AARP’s once-sterling reputation is all but gone as it has enriched itself by helping to slash Medicare and provided a big assist in the push for the passage of Obamacare. Now American seniors are left with the prospect of losing Medicare Advantage and facing the rationing of healthcare services.
American seniors should see the AARP for what it is. At one time AARP may have truly acted in the best interests of American seniors, but now is an annex of the Democrat party engaging in underhanded money-grubbing tactics that sell-out its members. In the big picture it is nothing more than another special interest group pushing for flawed healthcare policies to fill its own coffers. The AARP is no more an advocate for the best interests of seniors than is a fox an advocate for the best interests of chickens.
It is time for America’s seniors to look at AARP and its recent advocacy with a critical eye. American seniors deserve better than flawed policies resulting from back room dealing and ‘non-partisan’ advocacy and lobbying from an organization that is anything but neutral. A full investigation into their myriad of money-making activities is certainly warranted, as is an end to their privileged reputation in Washington, and in the minds and hearts of America’s seniors.
Music legend Pat Boone is the national spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, of which Jim Martin is the founder and chairman.