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FLASHBACK: In 2003 Republicans Praised AARP For Endorsing Medicare Prescription Drug Reform

By Igor Volsky  

"FLASHBACK: In 2003 Republicans Praised AARP For Endorsing Medicare Prescription Drug Reform"

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Republicans, who attacked the AARP for their support of the Affordable Care Act, are lashing out against the organization for allegedly profiting from the law and are hauling representatives of the group to testify before a Congressional committee tomorrow. In a report released yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee, the GOP accuses AARP of profiting from the law’s cuts to Medicare Advantage, arguing that reductions in the program would “lead seniors to seek supplemental insurance, including Medigap, which AARP endorses and which, the congressmen said, would provide AARP with a bigger take than Medicare Advantage plans it endorses.” Republicans claim that AARP stands to gain $1 billion in fees from the Medicaid Advantage reductions.

But the GOP hasn’t always been so down on the organization. In fact, in 2003, when AARP endorsed the Republican-backed Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, Republicans praised the organization without accusing it of potentially profiting from the effort:

REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): “What is surprising to hear the Democrat Party lambaste AARP. The AARP is that organization for senior citizens all across the country who I think has made a very wise and careful decision to look at his prescription drug plan and have clearly said GOP is right on the policy and right on what will give long-term success to this nation.” [2003]

REP. BILL THOMAS (R-CA): “[I]f we are trying to destroy Medicare, why is the American Association of Retired People supporting this proposal? Why is the AARP in favor of this bill?…AARP has chosen to be with seniors, and they have chosen to be with us.” [2003]

REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC): “Additionally, I’m happy to be here because of the support of the AARP of the plan which is before us at this time. I’m a member of the AARP and I’m proud of their promotion of the best health plan that they feel can be produced and that’s the bill before of us this week.” [11/21/2003]

REP. PHIL GRINGEY (R-GA): “Thirty-five million senior members of AARP, 330,000 physician members of American Medical Association who are providing care to hundreds of millions of Americans and 40 million Medicare beneficiaries…Mr. Speaker with so many for prescription drug and Medicare modernization benefit for our beloved seniors who could be against it and why?” [11/21/2003]

In fact, the Republican’s own report reveals that AARP began began selling Medicare Part D drug plans after 2003 and saw its revenues nearly triple. The organization maintains that it keeps its insurance subsidiary’s activities separate from its nonprofit work.

ThinkProgress intern Kevin Donohue contributed significant research for this post.

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