The AARP is still trying to play both sides on the health care debate. They contend that they generically support health care and don’t support any specific bill. But at the same time, they are running commercials that advocate for specific elements of the Congressional Obamacare proposals.
Potential and existing AARP members are not buying the “Rope-a-Dope” as people are continuing to cancel membership or refusing to join.
AARP, which has lost tens of thousands of members over its support for efforts to revamp the health care system, is preparing a post-Labor Day blitz to try to cast itself as a politically impartial advocate on health care issues.
…The effort gears up next week, when members of Congress — some of them surprised by voter anger expressed at town-hall-style meetings last month — return to the nation’s capital to resume the debate over how to lower health care costs and provide insurance coverage for the millions who go without.
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Since July 1, many of the 60,000 AARP members who have quit over concerns about health care legislation said they were worried it could lead to cuts in Medicare. Although AARP has not endorsed any specific plan, its general support for a system change left many members with the impression it backs the Democrats’ bill.
The resignations surprised leaders of the 40-million-member lobbying group, even though it signed up 400,000 new members during the same period.
What the AARP is a organization of almost 30 Million members and is constantly reaching out to people as soon as they hit their 50th birthday and continue with constant direct mail until they are 55. The US Census 2008 population estimates say the 50-54 population is about 21,000,000 people so that 400,000 new member number may not be anything special. The AARP is is not releasing is whether that 400,000 number is up or down vs previous years.
AARP’s new national campaign will feature more of the same, including:
- A post-Labor Day direct-mail blast — 8 million letters will be sent — addressing concerns about health care and Medicare and Release of the September AARP Bulletin with a cover story debunking health care myths.
- Town hall forums and tele-town halls to address concerns about the changes the White House and Congress are considering.
- National TV and Web ads. A multimillion-dollar ad campaign, which started in mid-August, will continue through Sept. 14, and plans are underway for a second set of ads to run this fall.
AARP hopes to retain members such as Ted Campbell, head of the Republican Club at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, Va. A retired engineer, Campbell says many of his friends dropped their AARP memberships and he may quit, too.
AARP “most definitely should be neutral” in the health care debate, says Campbell, 80. “I can see that they’re going Democratic, very much so. They talk about bipartisanship, but you don’t see it.”
Campbell’s big worry: “rationing of treatments. It sounds to me like, based on age, they’re going to determine whether you get treatment or not. I don’t think that’s the way to control health care costs.”
David Certner of the AARP thinks that people are scaring Seniors, giving them no credit for being able to understand the difference between rhetoric and fact:
AARP’s legislative director David Certner says that “There’s clearly been an effort to scare people,” says Certner, referring to incorrect warnings issued by some Republicans, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, of “death panels” that would cut off care for the elderly. “We’ve been spending a lot of time trying to dispel the myths. I think it has derailed the debate.”
Jim Kessler of Third Way, a Washington think tank that backs a public option, says AARP must be “pro-reform without being partisan.” Seniors are confused, he says, they “need to see (AARP) as an honest broker in this debate, … where they will get the most accurate information.”
Clearly they are not fulfilling their role as a non partisan advocate.