Washington’s Brand of Crony Capitalist Medicine

November 13, 2012

13 Nov (ALLIANCE FOR NATURAL HEALTH) – Does AARP really speak for the elderly?  Or the AMA for doctors?  In Washington, AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) is said to represent the interests of retirees in arguments about medicine.Their endorsement of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was mentioned reverently during the October 3rd presidential debate. Similarly, the AMA (American Medical Association) is said to represent the interests of doctors.

But do these groups actually represent anyone other than their members? Is their support basically for sale?

Consider AARP. It gets only about 20% of its revenue from its members. Over 50% comes from its medical insurance business where it has the largest share of “Medigap” policies, the policies that fill in the holes in traditional Medicare. When the administration sought AARP’s support for the Affordable Care Act, it promised to exempt Medigap policies from the requirement that insurers could not turn away people with preexisting conditions. Not only that, it also promised to exempt Medigap policies from rate review. (Ordinarily, health insurance companies must tell consumers when they want to increase insurance rates for individual or small group policies by an average of 10% or more.) In the end, Medigap was exempted from most of the law.

If that weren’t enough, the Affordable Care Act targets Medicare Advantage plans run by other private insurers. If these do not survive, and we expect they won’t, seniors currently in these plans will fall back into traditional Medicare and need—you guessed it—Medigap coverage, the field that AARP dominates.

Given these deals, South Carolina senator Jim DeMint may not be exaggerating when he calls the relationship between AARP and the White House “a protection racket.”

For more on this article, go to Alliance for Natural Health

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