AARP in hot seat over its insurance reform lobbying

AARP, the 40-million member senior citizen advocacy group, is coming under increasing scrutiny from congressional Republicans who accuse it of having a conflict of interest in taking sides in the national health insurance debate.

The group collected $1.14 billion in revenue last year. About $650 million of that came from royalties and other fees associated with the sale of insurance policies, credit cards and other products that carry the AARP name, the Washington Post reported.

AARP doesn't sell insurance policies directly, but allows plans to use its name in exchange for a tax-exempt cut of the premiums. In particular, AARP has a thriving business in marketing AARP-branded Medigap policies, which provide supplemental coverage for standard Medicare plans available to the elderly. No surprise, then, Republicans claim, that AARP supports Democratic proposals to slash Medicare Advantage reimbursements, which would in turn drive up demand for private Medigap policies.

AARP officials dispute the allegations, and note that even though it offers a Medicare Advantage plan, it has long advocated curbing waste in that federal program.

For more information:
- read the Washington Post article