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AARP is trying to portray itself as a “non partisan” observer on the health care debate, but has been actively working toward ensuring the passage of Obamacare. All the evidence points to the fact that the Senior advocacy organization is willing to push through a plan that will hurt its membership so it can make millions on its insurance related activities.

During the summer AARP’s management contended that they generically support health care but don’t support any specific bill. At the same time they were running commercials that advocating for specific elements of the House Bill.

The AARP even published bogus “debunking facts” on its website. Most of the AARP “debunking” facts` have been from the White House point of view and  falsely accuse  people who oppose the Obamacare plan as opposing any health care reform.  Clearly they are not fulfilling their role as a non partisan advocate, and for a very profitable reason.

While the AARP does not own the insurance companies who offer plans that bear its name, according to the Washington Post they get millions of dollars of royalties from the firms that sell the plans. The royalties from these progams make up the majority of AARP’s tax free income:

The group and its subsidiaries collected more than $650 million in royalties and other fees last year from the sale of insurance policies, credit cards and other products that carry the AARP name, accounting for the majority of its $1.14 billion in revenue, according to federal tax records. It does not directly sell insurance policies but lends its name to plans in exchange for a tax-exempt cut of the premiums.

The organization, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, also heavily markets the policies on its Web site, in mailings to its members and through ubiquitous advertising targeted at seniors.

The group’s dual role as an insurance reformer and a broker has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks from congressional Republicans, who accuse it of having a conflict of interest in taking sides in the fierce debate over health insurance. Three House Republicans sent a letter to AARP on Monday complaining that the group was putting its “political self-interests” ahead of seniors.

GOP lawmakers point to AARP’s thriving business in marketing branded Medigap policies, which provide supplemental coverage for standard Medicare plans available to the elderly. Democratic proposals to slash reimbursements for another program, called Medicare Advantage, are widely expected to drive up demand for private Medigap policies like the ones offered by AARP, according to health-care experts, legislative aides and documents.

…”We are witnessing a disturbing trend of handouts to special interests like AARP,” said House Republican spokesman Matt Lloyd, referring to Democratic negotiations over health reform. “In return, AARP is lobbying for a government-run health-care bill that will pad their own executives’ pockets at the expense of its own members and other vulnerable seniors.”

…AARP’s ties to the insurance business date to its founding by former educator Ethel Percy Andrus, who started a group to help retired schoolteachers find health insurance in the years before Medicare; the effort led to the creation of AARP in 1958.

Now, the group relies more than ever on payments from auto, health and life insurers, according to financial statements. From 2007 to 2008, AARP royalties from insurance plans, credit cards and other branded products shot up 31 percent — from less than $500 million to $652 million — making such fees the primary source of revenue for the group last year, the records show. AARP’s annual financial report shows that 63 percent of that, or about $400 million, came from the nation’s largest health insurance carrier, UnitedHealth Group, which underwrites four major AARP Medigap policies. Other carriers with AARP-branded plans include Aetna Life Insurance, Genworth Life Insurance and Delta Dental.

AARP is also a major powerhouse in Washington, spending more than $37 million on lobbying since January 2008. The organization’s close ties with insurers have long attracted criticism from politicians of both parties.

…Dean A. Zerbe, a former Grassley senior counsel who is now national managing director at the corporate tax firm Alliant Group, argues that AARP’s involvement in the sale of insurance plans “really hurts their credibility.”

“Either you’re a voice for the elderly or you’re an insurance company; choose one,” Zerbe said. “They put themselves forward in the public arena as nonbiased observers, but they’re very swayed by business interests.”

I would never dispute an organization for earning money, that would make me a Democrat. But it seems to me that the group should be honest with its members and the American Public. In this case it seems as if AARP is putting profit in front of the heath of its membership and should be punished by its members for the dishonesty.

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