Now the Teabaggers Are Going After AARP

You’ll remember that during the 2009 Summer of Hate over health care reform, when teabaggers were being coached to disrupt town hall meetings, some of the wrath was turned on the venerable AARP. Why? Because AARP had decided to endorse the principal bills being debated in the House and Senate at the time.

This endorsement was provisional on the bills’ promise of eventually closing the “gap” in Medicare Part D coverage. For those who haven’t been filled in on the gap — Medicare Part D as crafted by the Bush Administration helped pay for prescription drug costs up to $2,700 per year. Beyond that, the seniors were on their own until their costs reached $6,154. Any amount over $6,154 could be partly paid for under Medicare catastrophic coverage. But the $3,454 that fell into the “doughnut hole” had to come entirely out of the seniors’ pockets. One of the things the Affordable Care Act does is close (eventually) the “doughnut hole.” It has been shrunk a bit already.

Anyway, the closing of the Part D gap was given as the AARP’s principle reason for endorsing the bills, along with the bills’ promises to reduce waste and fraud and keep Medicare solvent generally.

AARP Chief Executive A. Barry Rand said the organization supports the House bill over other proposals because the measure does more to lower drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, strengthen Medicare and bar insurance companies from denying people coverage because of their health or age. The bill also would lower premiums for Americans ages 50 to 64 who have to buy insurance in the private market and would create a voluntary long-term care insurance program.

The AARP attempted to hold some discussion forums on the health care reform issues, and teabaggers showed up and shouted down the speakers without hearing what they had to say.

One of the raps against AARP at the time — that they were endorsing health care reform to get more “Medigap” coverage — has resurfaced. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee have released a report that challenges AARP’s tax-exempt status.

So, first they came for ACORN, then Planned Parenthood, and now the AARP.

Very basically, the claim is that since payments for Medicare Advantage plans will be cut, people will have to bail out of Medicare Advantage, and a lot of those people will fall back on a combination of regular Medicare and supplementary or “Medigap” insurance, and AARP is the biggest seller of Medigap insurance. Allahpundit of Hot Air summed it up in a headline — “GOP report: AARP stands to make $1 billion from ObamaCare, IRS should investigate.”

One hole in the logic here is that AARP also offers Medicare Advantage plans, which (the GOP says) from now on will be less profitable. And one does wonder how Republicans manage to demand cuts in Medicare one minute and then complain about “Obamacare” cutting Medicare the next minute without getting whiplash.

Several rightie bloggers today are salivating at the idea of destroying the AARP. They must be punished for endorsing bills sponsored by Democrats, of course. From RedState:

… there’s growing evidence that the policies supported by AARP — namely Obamacare — aren’t nearly as popular among its target democraphic. According to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll this month, a majority of seniors have an unfavorable view of the law. Just 19 percent think the Medicare program will be better off under Obamacare.

The 19 percent figure probably comes from the March 2011 Kaiser tracking polls on health care reform, which breaks opinion down by age. But while it’s true that only 19 percent of seniors polled think health care reform will make Medicare better (see page 7), the percentage thinking Medicare will get worse also is a minority — 39 percent. The remainder don’t think it will make any difference to them. So it’s not like the entire senior citizen population is preparing to take to the streets to denounce the Affordable Care Act.

Full disclosure — I pay dues to AARP and get my dental coverage and auto roadside assistance through them. Which takes me to my next point — AARP is not an organization like ACORN that mostly involved urban minorities, nor is it Planned Parenthood, which primarily provides reproductive health services for women of modest means. AARP is an institution among the American middle class.

I couldn’t find a demographic breakdown of AARP members versus the senior population as a whole, but I suspect membership skews toward people who are not wealthy but who have some money to pay for things like AARP-sponsored insurance and travel packages. Joining the AARP when one turns 50 is practically an American middle-class right-of passage. The bulk of the Baby Boom generation is eligible now, I believe.

If AARP loses its tax-exempt status, I suspect a lot of member benefits will disappear or be priced out of reach. Does the GOP really want to risk pissing off a large part of middle-class Americans aged 50 and older?

Keep in mind also that if “Obamacare” were entirely repealed, seniors might have to return the prescription drug benefit rebate checks they’ve already received.

I think righties may find that AARP is not the vulnerable, low-hanging fruit that ACORN was and that Planned Parenthood may prove to be. So, bring it on, teabaggers. Let’s see what you’re made of.

24 thoughts on “Now the Teabaggers Are Going After AARP

  1. Apparently, the Republicans in the House will be calling in AARP management to yell at them.
    You’ve go to love the cluelessness of this particular action.

    Remember, the House Republicans are still worried about the handful of Black Panthers in Philly, right?


    Wait until they piss the GRAY Panthers off!!!

    The Republicans won’t have to worry much about being Mau Mau’d by the brothers, because they’ll be dodging suppositories and full colostomy bags thrown by old women in Moo Moo’s.

    After this move of sheer brilliance, when they piss off their only key constituency that ain’t already buried, the Republican base under age 65 (50?) will now consist of white males – not exactly a fast growing demographic.

    Republicans to the AARP (with apologies to Godwin and his Law):
    ” If ju vork, or even agree, mit das Democrats, JU VILL BE PUNISHED!!!”

    GO, GRANNY GO!!!

  2. After a few years of procrastination (“Old?! Me?! Nuh-UH!!”), in 2009 I joined AARP specifically because it supported health care reform. Now I read their publications pretty thoroughly every month, and I’m certain Redstate is off base about the membership’s opinions on the reform act.

    So I picture a smug young dog sneaking up behind a stolid, elderly cat (like the one I had as a kid), and I imagine the yelps from the dog, when the cat suddenly whirls around and attaches her claws into a nose that was somewhere it didn’t belong. Yep, this should be interesting.

  3. I just came back yesterday from a business trip to the States and boy am I glad to be home. The meeting I was at was at a resort (yes, the weather was glorious), but news junkie that I am, I felt absolutely starved for any halfway intelligent information. The only thing I had was CNN and Fox News.

    I watched FN for a total of about 1 minute and was so sickened I had to change the channel. CNN was marginally better but what really shocked me were some of the commercials running constantly on CNN. One of them entreated people to call a number to express their opposition to Obamacare. The commercial said the organization (can’t remember the name) was aiming to receive 50,000 calls A DAY. Another commercial, which also bashed Obamacare and the Obama government in general, showed a Chinese university professor of the future explaining how the US had gone to wrack and ruin due to Obamacare, etc. and that was why China now ruled the world, economically speaking.

    I’ve been to the States several times recently, and I find the atmosphere more and more distressing. This morning, my dental hygienist who’s originally from Philadelphia, told me she didn’t recognize the country of her birth anymore. The polarization is unbelievable and in her opinion, the ignorance is rampant.

    Sometimes, I worry Canada is going down the same road, though we’re not as far along…yet. It’s frightening.

  4. Too bad, maha, that you couldn’t find a demographic breakdown of Tea’s. They look like AARP members which makes me suspect that the true agenda of the Party does not necessarily reflect the agenda of its rank-and-file, but more likely the agenda of the behind-the-scenes cabal that’s using it to further whatever nefarious goals they personally support. In other words, the Party’s been high-jacked by a few powerful people who early on saw fertile ground and took advantage of it.

    As I’ve said before, the Party was originally joined by people who objected to TARP, an issue that’s long gone. (I suspect that the likes of the Koch brothers and Newt are running the Tea show, using a willing, fresh-face-girl-next-door-camera-addicted Bachman as a front and that whole thing makes for a really ugly picture.)

  5. Teabaggers are Randian Birchers – somewhat new, old, older, and oldest – with a healthy dash of racism, a large splash of xenophobia, a heavy heaping of ignorance, a schpritz of obliviousness, the cherry of stupidity on top, all in a container made of manufactured chutzpah, and wheeled in on scooters provided by the government run health care which they hate sooooooo much!

    It would be helpful if members of our MSMS didn’t treat every Conservative utterance, or group, with complete amnesia like the people sorrounding Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”

    But that would require a MSM at least a couple of ticks higher on the IQ scale, and further to the right on the human evolution chart, than the average dopey Teabagger, so I won’t hold my breath.

    • Sounds like a potential project for Veritas Productions.

      James O’Keefe will have to dress up to look like a senior citizen pimp.

  6. I’m flabbergasted that the Right side of the GOP insists on attacking teachers, civil servants, and the AARP.

    I will be clear, and a bit profane. These poor excuses for people are just plain garden variety ass-holes, and should be treated as such. We had a couple in our HOA several years ago who decided to place themselves in positions of authority and be the neighborhood bullies. I stopped them dead in their tracks, threatening them with exactly what they were threatening everyone else with (and more).This type of person does not understand anything but projection of power.
    Sadly, I was the only one to stand up to them, but it worked.They both quit the HOA and thought about mooving out of the ‘hood.. Even more sad is the witch ( no offense ment to wiccans) of the duo got herself elected to the school board, and is now a big time bully.
    They have since divorced, and are basically ripping each other apart (Kharmic justice?)

    To Canadian Reader, our cable news is pathetic; I travel weekly, and most of the hotels carry only FOX and CNN; both are fear factories, and bull shit. To find any semblance of truth, we need tha web, NPR, and MSNBS. The rest is total propaganda.

    Felicity, I know severaql people who identify with the Teas. They all consider themselves conservative “Christian”, have lots of guns. and don’t “cotton” much to minorities (and hate Muslims).It’s easy to profile them in the sunshine state.

  7. Oh, just for more shits and giggles, there was a BIG, BIG, BIG, Teabagger Rally in DC at noon today.

    Dozens of people showed up!
    They were outnumbered by Republican politicians and media:


    What a show of FARCE!!!

    I guess, in all fairness, those Motorized Medicare Scooters that the Teabag Cavalry use to ride in to rallies on are notoriously finicky, and hard to start in cold wet weather.

    But, then, so I guess are pacemakers.

  8. As to the budget cutting issue – in support of my suspicion that the Tea’s agenda often doesn’t fit what’s in the best interest of its rank and file, the fact that it’s supporting, perhaps even behind, the movement to decrease funding to the NIH for cancer research while, at the same time, leaving completely alone the $53 billion/year subsidies to the oil industry, might point to the likes of the Koch’s really setting the Party’s agenda.

  9. I believe you have it wrong how the donut hole works. The senior pays co-pays until the cost of drugs ( co-pays plus insurance payments ) reach $2700.00. Then the senior pays until his or her out of pocket costs reach $6100, but that $2700.00 may contain a very much lower amount which are his or her out of pocket costs. If the lower amount of out of pocket ( different than cost of drugs ) equaled $1,000.00, the the senior would pay $5100.00 before the donut hole would close.

    All the while the senior pays premiums which don’t count towards anything.

    • The senior pays co-pays until the cost of drugs ( co-pays plus insurance payments ) reach $2700.00. Then the senior pays until his or her out of pocket costs reach $6100, but that $2700.00 may contain a very much lower amount which are his or her out of pocket costs. If the lower amount of out of pocket ( different than cost of drugs ) equaled $1,000.00, the the senior would pay $5100.00 before the donut hole would close.

      I thought that’s what I said. I just didn’t see a need to go into all the details. Very simply, Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage was capped at $2,700, and there was no program covering costs above $2700 until the annual cost exceeded $5,100. Over $5,100, a portion of the expenses were covered by the catastrophic care program. The “hole” is the expense above $2,700 and below $5,100. There’s a chart explaining it in more detail at Wikipedia.

      I’m using past tense because it’s changed already and will continue to change until the hole is closed in 2019. This year, the Part D cap is $2,840, and catastrophic care coverage begins at $4,550. Here’s an explanation.

  10. The base of the donut hole is not the $2,840.00 “cost of drugs” but the “out of pocket payments” of the senior when the “cost of drugs” reached $2,840.00 which will be considerable less that $2840.00. The difference between that lower figure of out of pocket costs and $4,550.00 determines the size of the donut hole. The arrangement is confusing because there are two concepts involved “cost of drugs” and “out of pocket costs”.

    • The base of the donut hole is not the $2,840.00 “cost of drugs” but the “out of pocket payments” of the senior when the “cost of drugs” reached $2,840.00 which will be considerable less that $2840.00.

      Whatever. It’s still the gap between the top of the prescription drug benefits and the bottom of the catastrophic care benefits, according to a gazillion sources I looked at.

  11. Ironically, if I remember correctly, the AARP supported the original prescription drug plan, complete with the donut hole.

  12. Theo – I think AARP also supported doing away with the government’s ability to negotiate drug prices – a gigantic give-away to big pharma. I dropped AARP years ago when it was revealed that it was behind the death of a bill here in CA that would have made health care available to poor children. It threw mega bucks into the campaign to kill it.

  13. I joined AARP because for $10 I got a senior discount card that works almost everywhere. Their health insurance was too expensive for me. I bet most of the elder GOPers are AARP members which proves the Tea Party is an astro-turf movement that receives incredible media coverage it does not deserve. What is being done to our country is a disaster. I wish I knew how to retrieve the country I thought I lived in. First I would kill a FOX. Sadly most older seniors are known to be easy to fool and look like fools supporting this Tea Party.

  14. moonbat …That’s good news! They have to recall every repug who is eligible for the honor. I read that the policeman’s union in Ohio issued a statement saying that their support for political candidates will be reciprocal with the support that the candidates have show for the union. And their votes for future candidates will be determined solely on the issue — union support. The message is..”.You’re gonna pay!”

  15. I never understood why union members would ever vote for Republicans, just like I don’t get why anyone gay would ever support them.
    It’s like that great old line about chickens for Col. Sanders.

  16. This morning on CSPAN I watched some House committee question the CEO of AARP. There was so much obfuscation on, let’s face it, both sides of the table that an hour and a half later I knew as much as I did before I started watching.

    But one thing I did hear that really blew my mind: AARP has a 501 C4 status, tax-empt, as does a race track and casino operating in Iowa – which pulls in about $2 1/2 billion/year. Can it be concluded that the so-called elephant-in-the-room that neither side of the Aisle is dealing with, now that budgets and finances are topic one in Congress, is the US Tax Code?

  17. maha – I just posted something and again it didn’t get on? I understood the last time but this time has me at a loss.

    • maha – I just posted something and again it didn’t get on?

      Just let me know when that happens and I’ll get the comment. The spam filter doesn’t always make sense. It nixes my comments too sometimes.

  18. Re: donut hole Once again, the bottom of the gap is the total of out of pocket costs of the senior when the costs of drugs reaches $2840. Two different numbers. Many explanatory sources get it wrong. Having blasted into the donut hole by April of last year I know of what I speak.

Comments are closed.