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Dave Reichert accuses AARP of misleading Congress on health-care law
WASHINGTON -- Did AARP executives mislead Congress when it said it supported the 2010 health-care law solely out of its members' best interest?
Dave Reichert suspects so, and he's demanding answers.
With the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act just days away, Reichert has accused the nation's leading advocacy group for older Americans of working with the Obama administration to pass the law despite opposition from majority of its members.
In a letter to AARP Chief Executive Barry Rand on Monday, the Auburn Republican and Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., who both serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, contend newly released emails between the White House and AARP show "significant and glaring discrepancy" between the group's public support for the law and internal backlash from unhappy members.
Last year, Reichert and House GOP members released a report purporting to reveal AARP's motives: the nonprofit group's taxable subsidiary stands to reap more than $1 billion in revenue over the next decade under the law by selling AARP-branded Medicare plans.
Reichert and other Republicans have said the health law hurts seniors by cutting $500 billion in Medicare spending over 10 years. Some 80 percent of the savings would come from reducing what experts say are excessive payments to nursing homes and other institutional providers and by getting rid of subsidies paid for Medicare Advantage plans sold by commercial insurers.
The AARP estimated the cuts would keep Medicare solvent for five extra years.
In their letter, Reichert and Herger cited a 2009 email from an AARP executive during the height of the health-care debate noting that calls from AARP members "against (health care) reform are coming in 14 to 1."
Seniors have been more likely than younger Americans to oppose the health law. But they've warmed up. In the March 2012 tracking poll by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 44 percent of seniors viewed the law favorably and 42 percent viewed it unfavorably.
The same poll also found widespread ignorance. Fifty nine percent of all Americans said they did not have enough information to know the law would affect them personally.
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