AARP Doesn't Deliver

Last night, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) held a private health care “briefing” for members of the Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club in Gainesville, VA, a higher-end active retirement community. The AARP participated on the “briefing” panel.  This meeting was not open to the general public, but we were there.

Connolly is a first term Democrat in a district — as one staffer at the event described it — as sixty percent registered Republican.

Gauging the level of questioning and the negative reaction of these seniors to the regurgitation of Democrat talking points at the event, these seniors have been studying H.R. 3200 and they overwhelmingly oppose the government takeover of health care, otherwise known as the “public option.”

While addressing the audience of about 300, Bill Kallio, the Virginia director of the AARP, said several times that the AARP has not endorsed a particular health care bill.  He even went so far as to say there isn’t yet a bill to endorse.  
For an organization that hasn’t “endorsed a bill,” literally all of the material AARP handed out  amplified the Democrat talking point.  One handout in particular, “Don’t Be Scared by Myths About Health Care Reform, Get the Facts,” could easily have been written by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.  

As HUMAN EVENTS reported, a leaked Pelosi memo at the beginning of the August break spoke of the coordination between AARP and House Democrats to push their legislation:

“The Leadership is working in close coordination with the White House and outside groups (including but not limited to HCAN, Families USA, AFSCME, SEIU, AARP, etc.) to ensure complementary efforts during August. The President, Secretary Sebelius and other principals in the reform debate will be working throughout the month to hold events, promote the message in the press and move the reform effort forward.”

The AARP denied being a part of the “complimentary efforts,” saying the memo was an “earlier draft” than the one finally released and that an over-enthusiastic staffer included that paragraph — never explaining why a staffer would have included the paragraph in an “earlier draft” in the first place.  The AARP’s printed material speaks for itself about the obvious appearance of lockstep between the AARP and the radical Democrat leadership in Congress intent on a government takeover of health care.

From the AARP brochure:

MYTH:  Health care reform is socialized medicine

FACT:  Health care reform will preserve the employer-based health care system, meaning an estimated 200 million Americans will continue to get their coverage through their employers.

On what basis does the AARP make this absolute statement about the health care reform?  Which bill does it even refer to?  Probably H.R. 3200, a copy of which — all 1,017 pages of it — was sitting on the dais at the meeting.

Kallio spent the evening telling the audience that there was no health care bill, yet this declarative statement is a complete fabrication unless speaking of specific legislation.  H.R. 3200, the bill that has been passed by Democrats out of the three House committees includes:

*  Page 16, Section 102(a): mandates that you cannot enroll in a private insurance plan if you don’t have your private plan “on or before the first day” of the year the legislation is enacted.  And if you have private insurance at that time, no changes in your plan are allowed, meaning if there is a new cure for cancer, your plan is not allowed to cover it.  You are then forced into the government system.  If you change jobs, you cannot enroll in private insurance at your new employer.  You are then forced into the government-run health care system.  This is designed to end private health insurance.

*  Page 19, Section 102(c): prohibits the sale of private individual health insurance policies beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government.

Page 116, Section 221: establishes a new government-run health plan that, according (pdf) to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group, a group historically considered the gold standard by Democrats and Republicans alike when it comes to their expertise, the government plan would cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their existing coverage.  This section of the bill establishes a government run plan that is supposed to play by the same rules as private plans in the exchange, yet the government mandates the benefit levels of all of the plans, including its own, creating an implicit unlevel playing field by allowing the government to set rules for itself and its “competitors.”

More from the AARP brochure:

MYTH:  Health care reform means rationed care.

FACT:  None of the health care reform proposals being considered would stand between individuals and their doctors or prevent any American from choosing the best possible care.

“Best possible care?”  With the government setting all of the benefit levels and rules for itself and its competitors, “best possible care” is a the statement of a government choice, not that of the doctor or patient.  It is the “best possible care” that can be achieved in accordance with government regulations and standards — the difference between Veterans’ Administration hospitals or the Indian Health Services Bureau and the private hospital system.

On “health care reform” and rationing, again from H.R. 3200:

Page 501, Section 1401: establishes a new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CCER); the bill includes no provisions preventing the government-run health plan from using such research to deny access to life-saving treatments on cost grounds, similar to Britain’s National Health Service, which routinely denies patient treatments costing more than approximately $60-70,000.

Literally all of the amendments offered by Republicans that would have barred comparative effectiveness research data from being used by the new government-run system to ration health care based on cost were defeated by Democrats in every House and Senate committee. This new government system, by the Democrats own admission, is designed to cut cost. Yet the creation of the CCER government oversight entity for the very research that will make it possible for the government to mandate the most cost-effective care, coupled with the defeat of the Republican amendments that would have barred CER’s use to ration care, give the government precisely the elements and the power to ration health care as a cost cutting measure.  

If rationing were not the intent, Democrats would have placed language in the House bill that would have specifically barred its use for health care rationing based on cost.  They did not do so because rationing is a part of every government-run health care system.

The level of disinformation by the AARP in their campaign to support the House Democrats is simply stunning. You can find more of their Orwellian “facts” here and compare them to the real facts in the House bill.

The AARP makes money from selling insurance to seniors.  It’s a safe bet that Democrats will approve the insurance plans offered for sale by this organization in their new government-run exchange.  There’s a lot of money at stake, and you can bet the Democrats will remember their friends.