Emails Reveal AARP Members Opposed Health Care Bill by 14-1 Even as the Group Endorsed It, Worked with White House to Keep “Board in Line”
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today requested additional information from AARP regarding the organization’s coordination with the White House prior to passage of President Obama’s health care law. The request is part of an ongoing investigation to determine how the health care law was crafted and what agreements were made behind closed doors instead of in front of the American people as the president promised. In June, the committee released emails that reveal AARP representatives were not only heavily involved in discussing potential policy changes, but were also coordinating political efforts with the White House.
The leaders wrote, “the e-mails provided by your organization show that your own membership was strongly opposed to any health care bill even as AARP staff was advocating for passage. Equally surprising, the communications we have obtained show discussions among staff members at AARP indicating that they were working with the White House to keep the AARP Board of Directors ‘in line.’
“We believe that these communications show that AARP was working closely with the Obama administration to pass a bill widely understood to be a partisan endeavor despite your organization’s public claims to be nonpartisan and despite the opposition of your membership. This meant using both the name and credibility of AARP to convince wavering Senators and House members while ignoring the very real cuts to Medicare that would impact AARP members the most. These e-mails, along with others that indicate a close relationship between AARP and the administration, are attached.
“Considering that AARP prominently identifies itself as a ‘nonprofit, nonpartisan organization’ advocating on behalf of its members, we are troubled by these documents that portray the organization as an arm of the White House.”
The members requested AARP provide an explanation for their endorsement, including all internal communications regarding the deliberations and an answer as to whether the board was aware of member opposition, by October 4, 2012.
In June, several members, including Energy and Commerce Committee member Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA), requested similar information from AARP.
To read the letter and supporting documents, click here.