AARP Struggles To Educate Seniors About Health Care

The Hill reports: "Despite expending vast resources, the AARP has not been able to unite its own membership, Nancy LeaMond, the executive vice president of the organization's social impact group, told reporters on Wednesday. AARP's membership is roughly divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents, LeaMond told reporters." Polls indicate that seniors tend to be the "most skeptical part of the electorate" regarding health care reform. "The AARP's challenge is quite similar to that faced by Democrats in Congress: How to calm and even excite a powerful voting bloc to take up the flag of healthcare reform."

Though the group has not endorsed Democratic efforts on Capitol Hill, AARP "has nevertheless been an important ally. With an endorsement, the AARP could help get healthcare reform over the hump. But the AARP is not satisfied the legislation does enough to help seniors, or that its benefits will be immediately apparent. The ratcheting up of rhetoric by the insurance industry and other groups will make the AARP's work even tougher" (Young, 10/14).

The New York Times reports that the AARP is focused on "educating people that the Medicare savings proposed by Democrats to help finance expanded coverage will not cut their benefits." John Rother, AARP's executive vice president for policy and strategy, said the programs would actually be strengthened and "cited as evidence plans to close a gap in Medicare's prescription drug coverage known as the 'doughnut hole,' expanded preventive care benefits for older Americans and the fact that the proposed Medicare savings would help the financially troubled program" (Calmes, 10/14).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.