Seniors blast AARP Medicare move

Representatives of some senior citizen organizations are angry about the Medicare bill just passed by Congress and endorsed by AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons.

These officials charge AARP sold out its membership and aligned itself with the White House to get a skimpy prescription drug benefit included in the legislation.

The people speaking out are members of the Medicare Rights Center’s Consumer Action Board. Their views were reported on

The group said: “The Washington leadership of the powerful senior citizens’ organization has opted to join forces with the White House to steamroll legislation through Congress.

“It is legislation that may irrevocably damage Medicare, all for a drug benefit that is meager or worse for most Americans.”

AARP has 35 million members, most attracted by the organization’s insurance programs, prescription drug services and hotel discounts. These and other services bring AARP hundreds of millions of dollars yearly.

“AARP is big business,” they said, “it shouldn’t pretend to represent its members’ political interests, few of whom have been asked their view of this dangerous Medicare overhaul.”

The spokesmen making these comments are: Bertie Evans, RN, Community Case Manager of Wichita County, Kan.; Robert Porter, president of the United Seniors of Oregon; and Gene Smith, president of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

They said the 1,000-page bill was not reviewed and had not even been completed when AARP decided to join with the White House in pressuring Congress to pass this measure.

Charging the bill is bad for people on Medicare, the outspoken seniors said: “Many, many people with Medicare are left worse off, and the only clear winners are the pharmaceutical industry (which will reap an estimated $139 billion in additional profits) and the insurance industry (which stands to receive added bonuses of $12 billion to enter the Medicare market). For consumers, the worst is yet to come.”

They cite what they regard as some of the more odious provisions of the bill: 1. Most people with Medicare will get no net drug benefit. 2. Many of the poorest seniors will be barred from the drug benefits by bureaucratic obstacles. 3. Nearly 6 million Medicare recipients face increases of 30 percent in their Medicare premiums under the “demonstration” move to privatization. 4. Millions of retirees face losing their benefits entirely and, 5. The door is opened to continue dismantling Medicare’s benefit package in the very near future.

Critics of AARP also say the association sells insurance and is really protecting its business interests, not the interest of seniors. Also, since the bill would prevent importation of drugs from Canada, many mom and pop pharmacies will be hard pressed to deliver low-cost drugs to their customers.

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