After AARP gets ‘waiver’ from Obamacare, conservative groups fight for information, answers

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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After President Barack Obama’s administration tossed the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) the equivalent of an Obamacare waiver on Thursday, conservative groups Let Freedom Ring and 60 Plus grilled Obama again for the appearance of favoritism. Obamacare is taking heat from critics, who accuse the administration of “crony capitalism,” after The Daily Caller reported this week that about 20 percent of the latest slew of waivers from parts of the healthcare overhaul went to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district.

“This is getting ridiculous, special waivers for labor unions, Nancy Pelosi’s constituents, and now AARP. How about the rest of America?,” Let Freedom Ring’s President Colin Hanna said. “The President and his radical bureaucrats need a reminder that we are a country of EQUAL protection under the law!”

Jim Martin, chairman of 60 Plus, the conservative alternative to the AARP, likens the AARP’s latest Obama administration gift to a “payoff” and that this “doesn’t surprise” him “one iota.”

“It’s payoff time to the AARP (some call it bribery) for selling out seniors and endorsing Obamacare, an awful proposal which makes no sense to seniors who know it’s bad medicine for them,” Martin said in a statement. “But it makes sense to the AARP, dollars and cents, that is, to its bottom line. The AARP made over a half billion in profits last year, selling ‘low cost’ insurance and other goodies to seniors. But that’s nothing.”

Martin went on to explain how Obamacare, which the AARP actively advocated for, damages the AARP’s biggest competitor, Medicare Advantage. He adds that the AARP is likely to make millions, if not billions, more dollars in the coming years because it can sell many more Medigap plans without competition.

“Now the cash register will ring even louder as these money-hungry merchants fleece the elderly,” Martin said. “AARP was the single most powerful organization supporting ObamaCare, yet now they want out of the relationship, so that they can make millions selling Medi-gap insurance to the very seniors they betrayed. If there is a more clear example of corruption and hypocrisy, I’ve yet to see it in my over seven decades on the planet. That’s why we call them the Association Against Retired Persons.”

Let Freedom Ring filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Health and Human services in an attempt to pry information relating to the AARP’s involvement in the latest Obamacare move. It’s unclear how successful they’ll be at getting information or any explanation whatsoever from the Obama administration. HHS won’t return TheDC’s requests for comment on virtually anything Obamacare waiver-related and it hasn’t answered official FOIA requests on the matter for months.

For example, last November, Americans for Limited Government (ALG) asked for waiver approved, waiver denied and waiver still pending approval, in addition to any and all information about those requests. No answer has come into ALG at all yet.

Judicial Watch filed another FOIA request and, subsequently, a lawsuit against HHS, seeking information specifically about the Obamacare waiver the administration granted to McDonald’s corporation. The Obama administration has not provided that information either.

Let Freedom Ring launched a new initiative, WheresMyWaiver.com, in an effort to draw attention to the fact that certain elite, D.C.-connected special interest groups are able to get the waivers and kickbacks, including, most recently, the AARP, and ordinary, main street Americans don’t know how to go about doing it. According to polling Let Freedom Ring conducted in March, Americans are strongly opposed to only certain groups and companies getting waivers. Sixty-two percent of those surveys in late March believe ordinary citizens should be able to apply for similar waivers, including 50 percent of the Democrats surveyed. Also, 67 percent surveyed believe Congress should be responsible for granting the waivers instead of the unelected executive branch officials.

The group called on governors and insurance commissioners nationwide, both Democrat and Republican, to apply for waivers for their states on Thursday. “Thus far, three states have received a waiver from the medical loss ratio requirement and we respectfully urge you apply for this waiver to protect your citizens from its harm,” Hanna wrote to them. “Whether or not you support the health care overhaul as a whole, applying for waivers from these provisions is a common-sense step that every Governor should take.”