Long-time readers will remember that I have denounced AARP for the slavish obeisance to the progressive communist democrat agenda and the continuing conflict of interest in pimping out their mailing list and magazines to those selling insurance, travel, and other products.
So I am not surprised when the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board Member Kimberley A. Strassel asks, "Whom Does AARP Serve?"
Who is monitoring AARP's billion-dollar enterprise?
Whom Does AARP Serve?
The group advances its own interests by backing the Schumer-Manchin bill.
The AARP, which claims to advocate policies that serve the interests of tens of millions of retirees, has gone all in for the giant tax-and-spend deal announced last week by Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The group's particular focus is the provision that would allow the federal government to "negotiate" Medicare drug prices and cap annual increases to inflation—though it is more than happy to also swallow the legislation's tax hikes and climate spending.
The lobby has fanned out across Washington to pressure Congress for passage and called on its members to blitz their representatives and senators. It's been running expensive ads that defend Mr. Manchin and demagogue the drug industry, which just worked miracles in the pandemic. "Congress has a historic opportunity to deliver relief" from "inflation" and "Big Pharma," one spot says. By negotiating prices it will "put money back in the pockets of seniors."
Left unsaid is that it may also put money in the pocket of AARP. Ask yourself why a group that claims to represent older Americans is plumping for a provision that will take the greatest toll on seniors. The bill would empower the secretary of health and human services to single out 10 to 20 of Medicare's priciest drugs each year and to penalize any pharmaceutical company that doesn't accept the government's proposed price. That's not a "negotiation"; it's a gun to the head. The proper term is "price controls."
Most devastated would be the people AARP claims to represent. Nearly 90% of adults 65 and older take at least one prescription medication. More than half report taking four or more. The AARP's price controls would mean horrific hits to research in cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, you name it. This isn't the Inflation Reduction Act. It's the Lowering Life Expectancy Act.
The AARP and Democrats are bragging that "negotiations" will result in $288 billion in "savings"—another brazen bit of deceptive language. The money won't be "saved" but rather siphoned from drug research and used to cover other spending in the bill. That includes climate dollars, but also $64 billion to extend ObamaCare insurance-premium subsidies.
[OCS: AARP was one of former President Obama's staunchest supporters and had no problem ripping $716 BILLION from Medicare to fund Obamacare – in reality, an unconstitutional insurance gimmick and an expansion of Medicaid.]
That's a huge boost for insurers, including UnitedHealth Group, for which AARP is now essentially a marketing arm. The seniors group for years has been selling AARP-branded Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, for which they get royalty payouts. According to public filings, AARP took in more than $1 billion from royalty payments in 2020, and past disclosures suggest at least 65% of that comes from its United Health relationship. These royalty amounts now significantly dwarf what AARP receives from membership dues.
To the extent inflation price caps on drugs pad insurers' profits, that's a win for UnitedHealthcare. To the extent ObamaCare subsidies keep those insurance plans rolling, that's a win for UnitedHealthcare. To the extent the drug companies are taking a hit, thereby sparing for some further time funding decreases to Medicare Advantage, that's a win for UnitedHealthcare. Anything that's a win for UnitedHealthcare is good for its partner, AARP.
AARP will insist it is working purely for its members' interests, but this conflict makes it impossible to know its true motives. That conflict is front and center every single time the lobby engages in a Washington healthcare fight. Yet the media uniformly closes its eyes to the problem, and treats the AARP's endorsement of legislation as a gold seal of approval.
[OCS: Its true motives are easy to discern. AARP's beneficiaries are its Board of Directors, senior executives, and favored vendors.]
Add in that it's increasingly unclear how motivated the group is by partisan politics. AARP was caught a decade ago operating as an extension of the Obama White House, toiling to help pass ObamaCare over the opposition of most members. Now it's laboring to land the country with another inflationary spending blowout, paid for by research dollars tapped from future medicines for those same senior citizens. Is this for the benefit of older Americans? Or for the benefit of Democrats?
[OCS: Unlike the more cautious and even-handed Kim Strassel, I have no problem pointing out the relationship between AARP and the progressive communist democrats and calling bullshit!]
AARP may be too attached to its royalty dollars to give up its financial conflict. But its refusal to do so strips it of any authority on the question of what is best for seniors. Keep that in mind next time one of those pricey AARP ads pops up on the television. <Source>
The big lie?
“AARP officials say the organization's public policy recommendations are made independently of other considerations, including its range of business ventures, from travel, to insurance, to publishing.”
I don’t believe this for a minute. AARP’s leadership was mostly about supporting Obama and Obamacare – and to preserve its billion dollar revenue stream from selling insurance referrals and other services to seniors. AARP’s lower-level employees seem to mean as little to AARP as do their constituency of senior citizens. <Source>
I am a huge fan of Kim Strassel and her work. And AARP should be subject to a critical eye.
Where AARP is concerned, the Better Business Bureau dictum applies: INVESTIGATE BEFORE YOU INVEST!
We are so screwed.
From One Citizen Speaking…
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS