The Ulterior Motives of the AARP

Yesterday, a story in the Washington Post detailed how AARP could stand to benefit from the health care reform it tirelessly advocates, citing among other things the $650 million earned by the organization in insurance royalties last year, the money the group spends on lobbying in Washington, and the executive salaries which have so far gone unnoticed by the Obama administration and its cabal of contraconstitutional czars.

To say that the exposure of the group’s ulterior motives–enough to cause AARP to actively stump for a program that would mean rationed care and higher costs for its aging membership–by the Washington Post was unexpected would be understatement of the year. And it would, except that the underlying facts behind the back-room deals cut between Democrats and the AARP were exposed a week before the Post piece . . . by House Republicans.

Consider this release, from the House Republican Conference’s GOP.gov Web site:

Democrats Cut Back-Room Deals Benefiting AARP
Organization Gouges Seniors to Fund PR Blitz

“There’s an inherent conflict of interest….They’re ending up becoming very dependent on sources of income.”

– Former AARP Executive Marilyn Moon, quoted in Bloomberg article

Speaker Pelosi recently called insurance companies “immoral villains,” and Sen. Jay Rockefeller derided their tactics as “rapacious,” yet the majority has simultaneously relied on an organization that has received billions of dollars in windfall profits from those same insurers as an “independent” source to support their government takeover of health care-AARP. The Democrat majority has even relied on AARP’s support for legislation (S. 1776) that would increase the federal debt by nearly $250 billion to fund physician reimbursements, even though the bill would raise seniors’ Medicare premiums by over $60 billion. AARP opposed unpaid-for legislation as recently as December for that very same reason. An analysis of Democrats’ rhetoric and actions provides evidence why AARP may have changed its position-in exchange for its support of a government takeover of health care, AARP has received special considerations regarding several provisions in health “reform” legislation that could benefit the organization quite handsomely:

  • While the AARP website claims that the organization supports “guaranteeing that all individuals and groups wishing to purchase or renew coverage can do so regardless of age or pre-existing conditions,” a review of the New York State Insurance Commissioner’s website finds that AARP-branded Medigap coverage imposes a six-month waiting period for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Yet Section 111 of H.R. 3200 would exempt Medigap policies from new limits on pre-existing condition restrictions — thus allowing AARP to continue to deny Medigap claims of individuals with serious health conditions.
  • The health “reform” bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee would eliminate the tax deductibility for all insurance company executive salaries over $500,000. However, as drafted by the Committee, the legislation would exempt AARP from this requirement, even though fully 38 percent of its $1.1 billion in 2008 revenue came directly from “royalty fees” paid by United Healthcare-more than AARP received in membership dues, grant revenue, and private contributions combined. But for Chairman Baucus’ exemption, AARP salaries would in fact be subject to the penalties in the Finance bill-in 2008, then-CEO William Novelli received total compensation of $1,005,830 — more than 78 times the average annual Social Security benefit of $12,738.
  • Speaker Pelosi has recently discussed the imposition of a new “windfall profits” tax on insurance companies as a potential addition to the House’s health “reform” bill. However, she has made no comments indicating that she would apply a similar tax to AARP-even though the organization by its own admission has received nearly $3.4 billion in profits from selling health insurance and other similar products. Thus it is entirely possible that Democrats could exempt AARP from the insurance windfall profits tax, in the same way that Chairman Baucus created a loophole to allow AARP to continue paying its CEO more than $1 million per year without penalty.
  • White House senior advisor David Axelrod recently offered Administration support for price control provisions included in H.R. 3200 that would require insurance companies to pay out a minimum percentage of their premiums in medical claims. However, while H.R. 3200 would place strict price controls on Medicare Advantage plans-requiring them to pay out 85 percent of premium revenues in medical claims-Medigap policies face a far less strict 65 percent requirement. In other words, under the Democrat bill, seniors could pay as much as 20 cents more out of every premium dollar to fund “kickbacks” to AARP-sponsored Medigap plans.
  • A Bloomberg news analysis published in December highlighted what one observer called AARP’s “dirty little secret”-overcharging its senior members, many of whom who felt betrayed after paying hundreds of dollars above market price for AARP-branded coverage. One noted that “AARP has great buying power, and people should be able to get the best deal….This is unconscionable, what AARP has allowed to happen.” Another disillusioned senior wrote to the organization’s leadership asking whether AARP had a “‘special relationship’ with [insurance carriers] by which it receives commissions, incentives, rebates, or dare I say ‘kickbacks?’”
  • In November, news sources reported that AARP suspended the sale of “limited-benefit” health insurance policies, largely as a result of pressure from Republicans in Congress concerned that the organization was selling policies advertised as a “smart option for the health care insurance you need,” even though the policies would only pay up to $10,000 for surgery costs. However, the fate of the more than 1 million policy-holders who purchased limited-benefit coverage from AARP remains unclear-and the organization has made no public offers to return the “royalty fees” on the “bare bones” policies it sold under questionable pretenses.

The special deals provided to AARP in the House and Senate health care bills raise questions about whether and why the Democrats are ignoring a de facto insurance conglomerate in their midst:

  • Why did Finance Committee Chairman Baucus exempt AARP from the salary requirements imposed on all other insurance carriers in his health “reform” legislation? Did Chairman Baucus cut another “rock-solid deal” with AARP behind closed doors so that its executives’ ability to earn million-dollar compensation packages would not be impaired?
  • Will Speaker Pelosi exempt an organization that earns more than 60 percent of its revenue from “royalty fees”-and obtains more of its revenue from United Health Group than from membership dues, grants, and private contributions combined-from the windfall profits tax she proposes to levy on insurance companies?
  • If Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman wants to investigate the compensation levels and corporate practices of insurance companies, why did he not submit requests for information to AARP, which makes 60 percent of its income by selling health insurance and related products to seniors? More to the point, why has the Committee not focused any of its investigative efforts on the widely-reported instances of abuses related to AARP-branded products to ensure executives are held to account and seniors adequately protected?
  • Do the Administration and Democrats in Congress support exempting AARP and its Medigap policies from the same regulations they propose to place on other insurance companies? In other words, do Democrats want seniors to be less protected from inflated profits and denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions than the rest of the American population?

Beneath these questions lie two broader issues: Is AARP a seniors’ advocacy group, or a billion-dollar insurance company masquerading as a “charity” organization? And are Democrats so intent on enacting a government takeover of health care that they would knowingly ignore seniors being exploited in “unconscionable” ways to maintain the support of an organization who will lobby for their efforts?

Folks, please talk to those in your life who depend upon Medicare, who are already struggling with the high cost of health care, and explain to them what’s going on. They’re not learning it from the local news. They’re not learning it from the county newspaper. They need to learn it from you.

Seniors are, for the most part, a tight-knit group. (Many also do knitting, but that’s another story.) These are the folks to whom we owe everything — they sacrificed for our nation, for ourselves. These are supposed to be the greatest years of their lives; let’s do what we can to ensure that things get better for them, not worse.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    I totally share your criticism of AARP. It is nothing more than a lobbying organization in business to support itself, not the ones for whom it claims to help. However, just how far would you suggeest we go with aging parents who are already fearful of illness and death by telling them just how corrupt the system really is. I realize seniors come in all shapes, sizes and ages; younger ones can probably cope better with the news however. How does one communicate this without freaking out aging parents and grandparents?

  2. Anonymous says:

    CRAAP

  3. Anonymous says:

    Like many seniors, I joined AARP without really knowing much about them. Less than a year into my membership I started noticing a liberal slant in their publications that disturbed me. When I called to voice my concerns, their first tactic was to deny. The more I persisted, the more they lied. When I called them out on their lies and pushed for answers, they resorted to talking down to me like I was some problem child who wouldn't get in line – So I cancelled my membership. That was ten years ago.

    It looks like nothing much has changed in the last ten years. In August/09 AARP's CEO, A. Barry Rand, posted a letter to address the angry emails, phone calls, and cancelled AARP memberships that were being generated from the health care debate. In my opinion his letter is just another example of AARP blowing smoke up their members wazoos. You be the judge. Read some of the members comments. If you have time, visit AARP's home page and see if you can find anything that makes you believe they are not in Obama's pocket. Disgraceful!

    http://blog.aarp.org/shaarpsession/2009/08/a_message_from_a_barry_rand_aa.html

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just dropped in to see if anything had been posted on the Obama constitutional issue.

    You won't see the media cover it because the US media is no longer owned by Americans. It appears that the entire media is now owned by foreigners. Those foreigners are not about to show any respect for the natural born citizen clause of the Constitution. Obviously, they find it offensive.

  5. Gail B says:

    Anonymous at 6:48 PM said–

    "CRAAP"

    Well stated. I agree!

  6. Gail B says:

    What a Great Letter from South Carolina ! Glad to forward it.

    This was sent to Mr. Rand who is the Executive Director of AARP

    Dear Mr. Rand,

    Recently you sent us a letter encouraging us to renew our lapsed
    membership in AARP by the requested date. I know it is not what you were looking for, but this is the most honest response I can give you. Our gap in
    coverage is merely a microscopic symptom of the real problem, a deepening lack of faith..

    While we have proudly maintained our membership for several years
    and have long admired the AARP goals and principles, regrettably, we can no longer endorse its abdication of our values. Your letter specifically stated that we can count on AARP to speak up for our rights, yet the voice we hear is not ours. Your offer of being kept up to date on important issues
    through DIVIDED WE FAIL presents neither an impartial view nor the one we have come to embrace. We do believe that when two parties agree all the time on everything presented to them, one is probably not necessary. But, when the opinions and long term goals are diametrically opposed, the divorce is imminent. This is the philosophy which spawned our 200 years of government.

    Once upon a time, we looked forward to being part of the senior demographic. We also looked to AARP to provide certain benefits and give our voice a power we could not possibly hope to achieve on our own. AARP gave
    us a sense of belonging which we no longer enjoy. The Socialist politics practiced by the Obama administration and empowered by AARP serves only to raise the blood pressure my medical insurance strives to contain. Clearly a conflict of interest there!

    We do not understand the AARP posture, feel greatly betrayed by
    the guiding forces whom we expected to map out our senior years and leave your ranks with a great sense of regret. We mitigate that disappointment with the relief of knowing that we are not contributing to the problem
    anymore by renewing our membership. There are numerous other organizations which offer discounts without threatening our way of life or offending our
    sensibilities.

    (Continued in next post)

  7. Gail B says:

    This Presidential Administration scares the living daylights out
    of us. Not just for ourselves, but for our proud and bloodstained heritage, but even more importantly for our children and grandchildren. Washington has
    rendered Soylent Green a prophetic cautionary tale rather than a nonfiction scare tactic. I have never in my life endorsed any militant or radical groups, yet now I find myself listening to them. I don't have to agree with
    them to appreciate the fear which birthed their existence. Their borderline insanity presents little more than a balance to the voice of the Socialist mindset in power.

    Perhaps I became American by a great stroke of luck in some cosmic uterine lottery, but in my adulthood I CHOOSE to embrace it and nurture the freedoms it represents as well as the responsibilities it requires.

    Your website generously offers us the opportunity to receive all
    communication in Spanish. ARE YOU KIDDING??? Someone has broken into our 'house', invaded our home without our invitation or consent. The President has insisted we keep the perpetrator in comfort and learn the perp language so we can communicate our reluctant welcome to them.

    I DON'T choose to welcome them.
    I DON'T choose to support them..
    I DON'T choose to educate them.
    I DON'T choose to medicate them, pay for their food or clothing.

    American home invaders get arrested. Please explain to me why
    foreign lawbreakers can enjoy privileges on American soil that Americans do not get? Why do some immigrants have to play the game to be welcomed and others only have to break & enter to be welcomed?

    We travel for a living. Walt hauls horses all over this great
    country, averaging over 10,000 miles a month when he is out there. He meets more people than a politician on caffeine overdose. Of all the many good folks he enjoyed on this last 10,000 miles, this trip yielded only ONE
    supporter of the current administration. One of us is out of touch with mainstream America. Since our poll is conducted without funding, I have more
    faith in it than one which is power driven.

    We have decided to forward this to everyone on our mailing list,
    and will encourage them to do the same. With several hundred in my address book, I have every faith that the eventual exponential factor will make a credible statement to you. I am disappointed as hell. I am scared as hell. I am MAD as hell, and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!

    Walt & Cyndy
    Miller Farms Equine Transport

    Cheraw , South Carolina

  8. OPT OUT MY ARSE says:

    The most important fact about the "opt out" scheme allegedly allowing states to decline government health insurance is that a state can't "opt out" of paying for it. All 50 states will pay for it. A state legislature can only opt out of allowing its own citizens to receive the benefits of a federal program they're paying for.

    While congressional Democrats act indignant that Republicans would intransigently oppose a national health care plan that now magnanimously allows states to "opt out," other liberals are being cockily honest about the "opt out" scheme.

    It's like a movie theater offering a "money back guarantee" and then explaining, you don't get your money back, but you don't have to stay and watch the movie if you don't like it. That's not what most people are thinking when they hear the words "opt out." The term more likely to come to mind is "scam."

    from Ann Coulter

  9. Rix says:

    Well, at least I got my mom's and her husband's money out of AARP's greedy fingers. Someone should get hands on their full membership list, send a mass mail titled "AARP STEALS YOUR MONEY! DETAILS BELOW!" and see their numbers dwindle.

  10. Randy Wills says:

    I'm a little late for comments on this posting regarding AARP, but for years I have suspected AARP of being a "front" organization – not unlike ACORN – that had something other than the best interests of its members in mind.

    This suspicion was recently reinforced when I discovered that Drummond Pike, the left-wing founder of the Tides Foundation, once did organizing work for the son of one of the founders of AARP.

    My guess is that there is a common thread of leftist-leaning philosophy running through the founders of AARP and Tides.

    Randy

  11. sorry might be off topic but is there any way to find out the hidden “conditions” between health insurers ?
    I’m trying to build a quote generator where to show this ones too ..

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