AARP partner crafted Obama ‘keep your plan’ lie

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The retired persons advocacy group AARP partners with the organization that helped craft President Obama’s “you can keep your plan” lie.

AARP, founded in 1958, is generating criticism from many of its members for heavily promoting Obamacare, which helps AARP’s bottom line to the tune of more than $1 billion. One legendary television personality told The Daily Caller that disgruntled members should leave the organization and join his rival group.

AARP partners with a small, unknown group called the Herndon Alliance, which has been described as “the messaging arm of a vast center-left infrastructure pushing health care reform.” AARP and Herndon’s co-founders participated in weekly conference calls during the run-up to the passage of Obamacare.

President Obama’s talking point that Americans could keep their “choice” of doctors and insurance plans was a Herndon strategy, developed by the end of Obama’s first 100 days in office. Herndon was in contact with then-Senator Obama during the 2008 campaign, discussing strategies to sell health care reform to demographic groups including “Marginalized Middle Agers” and “Mobile Materialists.”

“The Herndon Alliance was one of many broad stakeholder groups and coalitions – most notably Divided We Fail, which we led with partners like the Business Roundtable and NFIB – we worked with during the health reform process.  These stakeholder groups frequently include organizations representing hospitals, physicians, employers, workers, consumers and health advocates,” AARP spokesperson Allyson Funk told TheDC.

AARP’s heavy promotion of Obamacare, including creating the informational website and holding informational events and health fairs, has alienated many seniors who hold membership in the organization.

“Love it or hate it, we want to make sure that people have the information they need to make informed decisions,” Nicole Duritz, AARP Vice President for Health Education and Outreach, told TheDC.

AARP began partnering with the left-wing California Endowment, a foundation with close ties to the Obama White House and liberal billionaire George Soros and the Obama White House, in mid-October to “raise awareness about Obamacare” and “get Californians to enroll in health coverage.”

“Yes, there are some people who in those calls…the opinions go both ways. So we’re definitely reaching both sides,” said a spokesperson for AARP California, referring to telephone town halls the group has conducted with members on Obamacare. The spokesperson added that “the targeting we’re doing here in California is for the Hispanic population because they comprise 60 percent of the uninsured.”

AARP, which is also a major health insurer that sells “Medigap” plans to Medicare beneficiaries to cover things that Medicare does not provide, has a financial incentive to push Obamacare.

AARP saved $1.8 billion by successfully pushing to keep Medigap reform out of the final draft of Obamacare. AARP also benefits from cuts in Medicare Advantage, which will force more seniors to enroll in traditional Medicare and supplement it with Medigap plans, according to health policy expert Avik Roy.

AARP coordinated closely with the Obama White House during the push to pass Obamacare, even helping to craft Obama’s talking points and pledging its devotion to “the cause,” according to previously published emails.

“AARP I believe, from my point of view, is basically responsible for Obamacare. You start to ask yourself, why would they be so in the tank? What do they have to gain by it? It was all about Medigap,” former Wheel of Fortune and Love Connection host Chuck Woolery told TheDC. “You can hear Obama today saying it’s the insurance companies’ fault but he will never say anything bad about AARP.”

Woolery, a conservative activist, supporter of congressional term limits and former member of the psychedelic pop duo The Avant-Garde, is the spokesman for Generation America, a conservative-leaning alternative to AARP.

“When they [AARP] polled their members on Obamacare, it was huge” negative reaction, Woolery said. “I don’t think they even wanted to publish that number. It was bad. It was like publishing the first day of Obamacare enrollment numbers.”

“I’m not naive. I understand it’s about money, not about representing the people. But I think they have a certain moral obligation” to represent seniors, Woolery said. “Their political obligation and money obligation trumps their moral obligation.”

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