Friday, October 5, 2012

AARP's ObamaCare Agenda?

Is AARP an insurance company profiteering from ObamaCare?

After the Presidential Debate on Wednesday, during which Mr Romney alluded to AARP as an insurance company lobby, Democrats leapt to defend AARP and absolutely, positively DENIED that AARP is an insurance company, and it definitely DOES NOT have a political agenda.

Today's guest column is authored by Frank Schulwolf of Miami, who describes himself:
I was an artist, became an art director. Then a writer. Along the way I flew for Eastern Airlines and played some tennis."

Not an insurance company
The company that sells life insurance, major medical insurance, suplemental health insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, dental insurance, long term care insurance, mobil home insurance, motorcycle insurance, boat & personal watercraft insurance, ATV, golf cart and snowmobile insurance -- is not an insurance company.

It is a brokerage and marketing firm for insurance products.

Dr. Ethel Andrus founded AARP in 1958 to help fund insurance for retired teachers. AARP evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which Andrus had established in 1947. 

---- No.  AARP is not an insurance company.

AARP was established by Leonard Davis, founder of the Colonial Penn Group insurance companies, after he met Ethel Andrus. Mr Davis controlled AARP and promoted its image as a non-profit advocate of retirees in order to sell insurance to members until the 1980s ---- No AARP is not an insurance company.

In Behind The Veil, The AARP America Doesn’t Know:
The Congressional Ways and Means Committee released some sobering information on the group that bills itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50-plus have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.”

More than half AARP revenues come from insurance
AARP is in fact a large, complex and sophisticated organization with over $2.2 billion in total assets with of $1.4 billion in 2009 alone.

AARP has five primary revenue sources: 

1) Royalty payments (primarily from insurance companies) 
    [In 2009, AARP revenues from royalties were 2.5 times higher than its membership dues.]
2) Membership dues,
3) Publication advertising,
4) Grants (govt/non-govt).
5) Contributions/Other

Since 2002, income generated from AARP membership dues has increased 32%, or $60 million. However, during this same period, income derived from AARP’s business relationships, primarily with insurance companies, has nearly tripled, increasing by $417 million. Royalty payments from for-profit companies comprised nearly 46% of AARP’s revenue in 2009, while membership dues totaled just 17% of total revenues. 

---- No.  AARP is not an insurance company.

As a result of the new health care law, the Obama Administration estimates more than 7 million seniors will lose their current Medicare Advantage [MA]  plans, resulting in a massive migration of seniors to Medigap plans.

AARP is the nation’s leading provider of Medigap plans and has a contract in which AARP financially gains for every additional Medigap enrollee.

Based on low, mid- and high-range estimates, AARP stands to financially gain, over and above the millions of dollars they currently receive, between $55 million and $166 million in 2014 alone as a result of new Medigap enrollees stemming from the health care law’s cuts to MA, which AARP strongly endorsed.

Under the midrange estimate and under their current contract, AARP’s financial gain from the health care law could exceed $1 billion during the next 10 years since AARP will see its royalty payments increase as seniors are forced out of MA plans and to buy AARP Medigap plans instead.

Despite a massive increase in revenues, AARP’s cash and in-kind contributions to the AARP Foundation increased only 11% ($3.1 million), while cash and in-kind contributions to AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly actually decreased 9% ($300,000) from 2004 to 2008 (the only years for which AARP provided data).

Meanwhile, the AARP Foundation recently committed an estimated $14 million in each of the next three years to become the primary sponsor of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

The AARP Foundation received government grants totaling over $97 million -- which comprised 81.9% of the Foundation’s total revenue in 2009.

Why is AARP lobbying for gun control?
AARP is the behemoth of special interest advocacy groups with a well-earned reputation for throwing its weight around in Washington, DC.

According to the House Ways and Means Committee Report, from 1998 - 2010, AARP spent $198 million on lobbying, putting it behind the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Medical Association, and General Electric, but ahead of PhRMA (Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers).

---- No.  AARP is not an insurance company.

AARP had $1.565 billion in assets and revenue of $1.176 billion in 2010 (according to its IRS Form 990 tax report). The bulk of its money comes not from membership dues, but from its business agreements with insurance companies and endorsements.

---- No.  AARP is not an insurance company.

So, to sum up, while AARP poses as a disinterested senior advocate, it functions as an insurance conglomerate, with a liberal lobbying arm on the side. (e.g., it is a strong opponent of voter ID). AARP’s $458 million in health insurance revenue in 2011 would rank it as the nation’s sixth most profitable health insurer. ---- No AARP is not an insurance company.

AARP's $28 Billion windfall from ObamaCare hurts seniors
AARP wins when seniors lose.
Because AARP receives a “royalty fee” of 4.95 percent of every premium dollar paid by seniors buying Medigap insurance from the organization, AARP earns more profit when seniors pay more in premiums. Even former AARP executives admit that the billions of dollars raised from these business enterprises have compromised the organization’s mission and independence.

AARP’s policy positions coincide with its financial interests. While AARP lobbied heavily for "Obamacare", it also engaged in a secret lobbying campaign to block Medigap reforms last year that by one estimate would have saved nearly 80 percent of seniors an average of $415 per year – but would have cost AARP billions of dollars in profits.

AARP knows it can protect its financial interests by aligning with Democrats, no matter what its members think. 

That’s one reason why AARP endorsed “Obamacare” -- although the AARP’s call response logs indicate opponents outnumbered supporters by more than 50 to 1.

Consider these comments from a senior AARP executive who wrote the White House in November 2009:
“we will try to keep a little space between us” on health care – because AARP’s “polling shows we are more influential when we are seen as independent, so we want to reinforce that positioning….The larger issue is how best to serve the cause.”

“The cause” in this case is liberalism, the Obama agenda and “Obamacare” in particular.

The Obama administration has reciprocated AARP’s support by giving the group preferential treatment. 

“Obamacare” exempted Medigap insurance – a market AARP dominates – from virtually all its new mandates, including the ban on preexisting condition discrimination. 

The Department of Health and Human Services exempted Medigap plans from insurance rate review, though AARP, whose plan is the most popular form of Medigap coverage, makes more in profit the higher premiums rise. 

Though the administration has publicly attacked other insurance companies with much smaller profit margins, it has not openly criticized AARP’s business practices.

There is very little one can conjure that is more despicable than claiming to protect a person or persons, collecting remuneration for doing so, while at the same time working to undercut their best interests. 

In principle they differ not from our country’s poverty pimps who make their living by securing a permanent underclass.

Is “AARP is not an insurance company”, a metaphysical fact or a psychological fantasy?