Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has responded to the AARP’s endorsement of the Senate health care bill and its $436 billion of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid by encouraging senior citizens to rip-up their AARP cards and send them back to the AARP.
Today, McCain argued that if the government limited the over-payments to private insurers participating in Medicare Advantage programs, more seniors would be forced to buy Medi-gap policies, which the AARP endorses. AARP would “generate $414 billion” under the provisions of the Senate health care bill, McCaing argued, and asked for unanimous consent to restrict the amount AARP leaders could deduct from their compensation packages.
But McCain wasn’t always so hostile to the AARP. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, McCain appeared at AARP’s Live @ 50 event (the organization’s birthday party) to highlight his close relationship with the president of AARP and the organization:
MCCAIN IN 2008: I say God bless the AARP for everything they’re doing. Not only for the present generation of Americans but for future generations. That’s your duty. That’s your strength. And that’s why I love to see you at every town hall meeting, and I always try to let you talk.
MCCAIN IN 2009: I say shame on the AARP. I say to my friends, especially those who are under the Medicare Advantage program, the 300,030 in my state who admittedly they are going to cut their Medicare Advantage benefits. Take your AARP card, cut it in half. And send it back. They’ve betrayed you.
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During the campaign, McCain announced that he would pay for his health plan “with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid…in a move that independent analysts estimate could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs.” In fact, the campaign specifically endorsed competitive bidding for Medicare Advantage. “We see no reason why the Medicare Advantage plans should continue to get a $15-billion-a-year subsidy,” McCain campaign adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, “we’ll put them on a level playing field and save some money there.”
At the AARP appearance McCain endorsed Medicare payment reforms and improving reimbursements to “doctors, hospitals, and others.” “I’ll fight the Medicare fraud that’s estimated to take $60 billion each year.”"And AARP has led as usual in this effort,” he said.