Health Subcommittee Chairman Wally Herger (R-CA) and Ways and Means Member Dave Reichert (R-WA) sent a letter to AARP's Chief Executive Officer Barry Rand this afternoon seeking additional information from the organization related to AARP's role in the formulation and advancement of the Democrats' health care law. The call for information comes as a separate Congressional investigation uncovered internal AARP communications with the White House, which contradict responses AARP provided to Ways and Means Committee members during a lengthy Congressional investigation. The Ways and Means Committee report, "Behind the Veil: the AARP America Doesn't Know," found that under the Democrats' health care law, AARP stands to make an additional one billion dollars over the next ten years through the sale of AARP-endorsed insurance products and questioned whether this financial windfall was the impetus behind AARP's endorsement of the health care law its members opposed.
The letter states, "During the health care debate in 2009 and 2010, we engaged in an energetic and detailed discussion regarding AARP's support of legislative proposals cutting Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for a new entitlement our country could not afford and many of your members would not benefit from. When pressed about AARP's incongruous position, AARP argued that it was solely representing the interests of its members. However, the Energy and Commerce Committee's recent release of contemporaneous AARP executives' e-mails tells a different story."
At a November 18, 2009, meeting with AARP, Mr. David Sloane, then-Senior Vice President for Government Relations & Advocacy, claimed to Rep. Reichert and other Members of the Ways and Means Committee that AARP supported these Medicare cuts, which Medicare officials have warned could jeopardize seniors' access to care, to "protect the greater good."
To illustrate the sharp contrast between what AARP told Members in both written communications and Congressional hearings, Mr. Herger and Mr. Reichert included several examples detailing AARP's public position during health care reform debate that appear inconsistent with the communications between AARP's leadership and staff in the Obama Administration, namely that AARP members did not support the health care law and that AARP was concerned about its image yet AARP pushed ahead anyway.