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You probably know that AARP was hugely influential in championing the horrific and corruption-laden Medicare D prescription drug benefit.

AARP is a brand in America. A brand is how a particular company or organization is perceived by its customers--in the case of AARP, vulnerable elderly Americans.

A brand is also a promise. It's a set of fundamental principles and values as understood by anyone who comes into contact with a company. A brand is an organization's "reason for being".

The brand that AARP has created is that it is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with older Americans. And the minute you hit age 50, you get hit with mailings from AARP.

As you read this diary, continue to think about the AARP brand. The brand of trustworthiness which they have successfully created and maintain. And now, sit back and read how they use this brand to line their pockets and support special interests while promoting the organization as being on the side of your mother and mine.  They're not. Sound familiar? Sound like it's out of the Karl Rove scam the American people playbook?

Most significant, the AARP will be a huge and powerful player as the fight for health care reform moves into high gear. So it's important to know what this organization is really all about.

AARP wants your money, your body and your support.
Here's a link to their web site, you decide.

If you want to know only one fact about AARP, remember this, they make a huge amount of money selling insurance. They don't give a rat's ass about your mother or mine, they care about the revenue they generate selling for-profit junk insurance.

This is what PNHP revealed about AARP royalties in 2003 at the height of the Medicare D battle. Do yourself a favor and read the entire report, it will make your hair curl.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) derives significant income from the sale of health and life insurance policies, and stands to make hundreds of millions more under the Medicare Prescription Drug bill now being debated before Congress. Yet the AARPís financial interests in the bill have received scant attention.

The AARPs current insurance-related revenues come in several streams.

1- They receive royalties from AARP insurance policies marketed to their members by United Healthcare, MetLife and others. Last year these royalties amounted to $123.283 million.

2- They receive list access fees from insurance firms that market to their membership. In 2002, such fees totaled $10.794 million.

3- AARP receives Quality Control fees from insurers that amounted to $893,000 last year.

4- AARP also earns investment income on the premiums received from members until such premiums are forwarded to UnitedHealthcare and MetLife. In 2002, AARP earned $26.708 million in such investment income.

Also, make no mistake, the AARP does not support guaranteed affordable insurance for all Americans--single-payer. They support selling junk insurance to desperate Americans.

A lot of people wonder whether the Medicare D travesty would have passed had AARP not jumped on the bandwagon. Keep reading, the AARP is making a ton of $$$$$ on Medicare D.

We know Mr. Novelli, the president of AARP is a loyal card-carrying Republican, so that tells you why this quite terrible organization supported the creation of Medicare D. It was not in the best interests of America's elderly, but it was real good ($$$$$$) business for AARP.

But sadly for America's elderly, AARP has become a trusted an authoritative brand and sadly they still maintain an undeserved veneer of respectability.

Medicare D is an unmitgated disaster. Prescription drug prices are skyrocketing because, as you know, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry.

New Report Shows Prices for Top Medicare Part D Drugs Grew by 9.2 Percent in Past Year

WASHINGTON, April 18 PRNewswire-USNewswire --
Contrary to repeated assertions by the Bush Administration that the Medicare Part D prescription drug program would bring down pharmaceutical prices, a report released today shows quite the opposite has occurred. According to the report, Part D prices of the most-prescribed drugs for seniors rose steeply last year.
The report, released by the consumer health organization Families USA on the same day the Senate sustained a filibuster on a bill allowing Medicare to bargain for cheaper prices, examined Part D drug plan price
changes from April 2006 to April 2007 for the top 15 drugs prescribed to seniors, such as Celebrex, Fosamax, and Lipitor.
According to the report, the median Part D drug price increase was 9.2 percent -- almost four times the latest inflation rate (2.4 percent) and
almost three times the increase in this year's cost-of living adjustment in Social Security (3.3 percent).

Recently as I've told you, AARP has backtracked--some might say, flip-flopped. Now AARP wants Medicare to negotiate. But this has become a moot point since the Republican AARP enablers killed the legislation in the Senate last week.

I'm a cynic, so I believe the AARP knew all along that this legislation was doomed. It was easy for them to support, knowing full well it would never become law.

David Sloane, AARP Director of Government Relations said, "Allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices is common sense, and could have led to more affordable drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and lower costs for all taxpayers.

"Instead, a minority of the Senate decided to block consideration of a bill that has the support of the vast majority of their constituents. Given the overwhelming support for giving Medicare the power to negotiate, the will of the people will eventually be heard."

Sloane continued, "Pharmaceutical manufacturers have given more than $20 million in campaign contributions for the last two cycles alone. They followed that up over the last few months with misleading polling and disinformation aimed at scaring older Americans into preserving the exorbitant profits that pharmaceutical companies make on brand name drugs.

"Senators should know this issue is not going away. No amount of campaign money can trump the will of 90 percent of Americans."

Last week, AARP alerted Senators that the association is recording key votes on S. 3 and will be informing its members of how their Senators voted.

We know the AARP sold out America's seniors, but now what is the AARP up to?

Why, doing what they do best, of course, selling junk insurance.

AARP officials on Monday announced plans to expand the number of health insurance products offered by the group that will target U.S. residents ages 50 to 64 who lack coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports (Fuhrmans, Wall Street Journal, 4/17). As part of the expansion, AARP in 2008 will begin to market with Aetna a PPO for U.S. residents ages 50 to 64, as well as a high-deductible health plan possibly linked with a health savings account. AARP said that underwriting practices for the health plans for such residents -- who "often find that health insurance is unavailable or unaffordable" in the individual coverage market -- will "be less stringent than those of many commercial insurers," although the plans will deny coverage to some sick residents, according to the New York Times (Pear, New York Times, 4/17).

. . .The new plans will raise an estimated $628 million in revenue annually for AARP, Sweeney said (Forster, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/16).

This is what some Wall Street analysts think of the relationship between AARP and the for-profit insurance industry.

UnitedHealth Group and AARP will announce today that they have agreed to extend and broaden contracts that enable the health insurer to sell Medicare products under the powerful AARP brand.

. . .AARP, a lobbying and interest group representing millions of U.S. citizens over 50, is one of UnitedHealth's most significant customers and provides an enormous sales vehicle into the aging population.

. . .UnitedHealth earns about $5.3 billion per year in revenue through its Medicare supplemental insurance coverage and other products offered to AARP members. Under another Part D agreement, the company sells Medicare prescription drug benefit plans under the AARP brand. UnitedHealth receives a royalty under that agreement of about $6 billion a year. Beyond the money generated from specific products, the relationship with the brand evoked positive sentiment from investors.

Propelled by the relationship, UnitedHealth signed up 4.7 million seniors for Part D coverage, more than any other health insurer.

"Mostly it's important because of the marketing relationship," said Melissa Mullikin, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Cos. "Because of how AARP is viewed by the senior population, it really does position (UnitedHealth) as the premium health-benefits provider for that age group."

. . .The relationship with UnitedHealth has benefited AARP too. From 2001 through what is anticipated in 2007, on average, AARP received $185 million a year in royalties and revenue from its UnitedHealth-marketed health products, Sweeney said. The new contracts with UnitedHealth and its new 7-year agreement with Aetna is anticipated to generate, on average, $628 million each year, the bulk of the revenue coming from UnitedHealth's marketed products.

Remember what I said about "the AARP brand"?

Senior citizens trust AARP. They shouldn't.

The AARP is not a friend I would want to have.

Originally posted to nyceve on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 07:24 AM PDT.

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