Thursday, November 5, 2009

Speaker Pelosi and AARP: Hypocrisy You Can Believe In

While Speaker Pelosi attempts to tout AARP’s endorsement of her government takeover of health care, some may view it as the latest in a long line of contradictory statements and actions by the purported senior advocacy group. Quite often, AARP’s own words serve as the strongest argument against itself, as many may wonder what—and whom—the organization stands for:

Point: “AARP believes that the best way to make coverage affordable for everyone is by guaranteeing that all individuals and groups wishing to purchase or renew coverage can do so regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.”

— AARP Executive Vice President John Rother, Senate HELP Committee testimony, June 11, 2009

Counter-Point: “United HealthCare Insurance Company of New York(American Association of Retired Persons)—Pre-Ex wait (months): 6”

— Information on Medigap policies for seniors, New York State Insurance Commissioner’s website

Point: “Strengthening Medicare: Rationalize spending by rewarding quality rather than quantity of care provided by physicians and managed care, and protection against premium increases when addressing physician payment reform.”

— AARP list of 2009 legislative priorities, December 2008

Counter-Point: “Over the 2011-2019 period, CBO estimates that aggregate Part B premiums would increase by about $70 billion.”

  • Congressional Budget Office, score of AARP-endorsed Medicare physician payment bill (S. 1776), October 26, 2009

Point: “We’re a consumer advocacy organization; we’re not an insurance firm.”

  • AARP Director of Legislative Policy David Certner, quoted in Washington Post expose about AARP business practices, October 27, 2009

Counter-Point: “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 December Bloomberg article

Point: “Our focus is on issues….Here, policy trumps everything.”

  • AARP Executive Vice President for Social Impact Nancy LeaMond, quoted in Associated Press story, September 23, 2009

Counter-Point: “During 2008 and 2007, [AARP’s] service provider United HealthCare Corporation accounted for 63 percent and 57 percent, respectively, of [$1.2 billion in] total royalties earned.”

— AARP 2008 Financial Statements

Given all its conflicting positions, many may ask: What exactly does AARP stand for—and why does Speaker Pelosi want to stand beside an organization that so blithely casts aside its own principles to support a government takeover of health care?