AARP supports Medigap-discrimination-ending legislation that doesn’t exist yet

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) does support Sen. John Kerry’s plan to stop Medigap plan providers from discriminating against seniors with preexisting conditions.

The only problem with Kerry and AARP’s plans is that there is no plan. At this point in time, the “Kerry plan” does not exist at all.

Kerry introduced legislation in fall 2009, close to the beginning of the 111th Congress, that would have required guaranteed issue from Medigap providers. Medigap is supplemental health insurance seniors can purchase in addition to their Medicare coverage.

Guaranteed issue means Medigap providers would have to approve all applications for coverage, regardless of preexisting conditions for seniors. The AARP brings in millions of dollars annually in revenue from partnerships it has with Medigap providers.

Those providers use the AARP brand and logo to sell their products to seniors. In return, the AARP receives “royalty revenue.”

The Obamacare legislation, as The Daily Caller reported on Tuesday, originally had a provision that would have required guaranteed issue from Medigap providers, which includes AARP partners. The provision was removed from the Obamacare legislation before it was introduced to committee.*

(IT’S A GO: Obamacare doesn’t stop Medigap providers, AARP partners from discriminating against seniors)

“We supported including the provision in the health care law, and we continue to support it as standalone legislation,” AARP spokesperson Jim Dau said then. “We believe everyone in Medicare should have the same consumer protections, regardless of their health history.”

Even though they still support Kerry’s plan “as standalone legislation,” a spokesperson for Kerry confirmed for TheDC that the legislation has not yet been introduced. The spokesperson said Kerry does intend to introduce similar legislation this Congress, but that it remains unclear whether or not the new legislation will require guaranteed issue of Medigap providers.

Kerry’s office said he does plan to “address” guaranteed issue, but can’t say whether it will be required in the legislation he plans to introduce.

(ANALYZED: GAO releases Obamacare waiver analysis, still no clear rhyme or reason to process)

That means the specifics of the Kerry legislation the AARP says it supports are completely unknown to the public and it’s unclear how, if at all, that legislation will actually stop Medigap providers from being able to discriminate against seniors with preexisting conditions.

It’s also unclear what else may be in the bill Kerry has yet to introduce in this Congress. Even so, AARP has its weight behind the Massachusetts Democrat’s plan, whatever that is.

*The story has been updated to reflect that AARP did not actively oppose Medigap provisions in the House Obamacare legislation.