During President Biden’s recent State of the Union address, he called for a Medicare “negotiation” scheme to “lower drug costs.” If you follow AARP’s social media accounts, this call to action likely sounds familiar to you. Don’t fall for their policy sleight of hand.
AARP has been beating the drum for Medicare “negotiation,” particularly for Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 3, which was introduced in 2019. This draconian bill, which never passed the Senate, would supposedly “save” billions of dollars on drug spending.
But how, and for whom?
The proposal would grant government bureaucrats the power to “negotiate” prescription drug prices for Medicare — with drug manufacturers potentially facing punitive taxes of up to 95 percent if they fail to accept the government’s “offer.” Anywhere outside of Washington, these negotiations would be called what they really are: government-set price controls.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that any so-called “savings” would go to seniors and patients. Rather, bureaucrats would be free to raid the funds to pay for whatever unrelated pet programs-of-the-day that progressives and government bureaucrats could dream up. What’s more startling is that Pelosi’s price control scheme would ultimately curb medical innovation and result in dozens of fewer critical cures and treatments for illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite the rebuke of Pelosi’s price control scheme in Congress, AARP continued its crusade to give bureaucrats more control over our medicines with its support of the Build Back Better Act, which contained an H.R.3 clone within it. Unfortunately for Pelosi and the AARP, however, multiple surveys have shown that Americans opposed the massive social spending legislation.
It’s reminiscent of the Obamacare debate years ago when seniors contacted the AARP at a rate of 14-to-1 against the bill. AARP then went to the mat for Democrats anyway, lobbying for Obamacare despite the readily apparent opposition of its members. And when it came to Build Back Better, the AARP once again overlooked seniors’ interests and supported the bill.
The AARP’s support for legislation that its members oppose is important for many reasons, most notably because AARP maintains a lucrative financial arrangement with UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer. The recently released report, “How AARP Puts Profits over Patients — And Principles,” outlines AARP’s possible incentive for lobbying against its members’ wishes: Since 2007, the so-called “non-profit” has raked in an estimated $6.7 billion in “royalty fees” from UnitedHealth for AARP-endorsed policies it has marketed to its members. In fact, for the first time ever, in 2020, the AARP surpassed $1 billion in corporate royalties raked in in a single year.
It makes one wonder why AARP advocates for such misguided healthcare proposals — and whose interests are they looking out for. Is it their corporate benefactors who bankroll AARP with a cool $1 billion per year, or the individual seniors who pay $16 — and whose membership dues amount to less than one-fifth of AARP’s total annual revenue?
If successful, AARP’s persistent lobbying for price controls is ultimately going to put life-saving cures for its members and seniors around the country at risk. So, the next time you stumble upon — or drown in — AARP tweets rallying behind a Medicare price control scheme, ask yourself: who are they really looking out for?