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Media Release: American Commitment Highlights AARP’s Misguided Advocacy & Corporate Financial Relationships in New Study

Washington, D.C.—American Commitment is launching a major new educational, grassroots, and multimedia initiative to educate policymakers and the public regarding AARP’s financial relationships with large for-profit corporations such as UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurance company.  The CommitmentToSeniors.org initiative is being launched featuring a new original research paper exploring AARP’s systemic financial ties to UnitedHealth, frequently updated content as health care policy debates impacting seniors intensify in Congress and numerous state legislatures, and activist tools to make it easy for citizens to tell inform elected officials when they believe AARP is speaking for its corporate partners—not for seniors.

“AARP has become little more than a marketing scam for its big corporate sponsors—like UnitedHealth and its wholly-owned OptumRx pharmacy middleman business,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment.  “AARP supported Obamacare despite overwhelming opposition from seniors—and now enjoys a special carve out that lets them exclude pre-existing conditions—perhaps a target of the president’s promised executive order.  AARP has emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of Nancy Pelosi’s prescription drug plan and other government price setting measures, which would impose price controls, restrictions on seniors’ access to lifesaving drugs and give more decision-making authority to government bureaucrats and big insurance companies.  Seniors deserve better than AARP, and have the right to know the truth about its financial dealings.”

The new study, “How AARP Puts Profits over Patients—And Principles,” was commissioned by American Commitment as part of its Commitment to Seniors initiative and conducted by Juniper Research Group CEO Chris Jacobs.  In the special report, Jacobs contends that AARP has become an exceptionally profitable non-profit organization that represents and sells supplemental Medicare polices for the health insurance industry, most notably UnitedHealth.

Jacobs report further questions longstanding concerns that AARP’s public policy positions are being driven as a result of their financial relationships with corporations like UnitedHealth rather than being in the best interest of senior Americans.  The report argues: “Some Americans might think of AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, as a membership and advocacy organization. However, the reality has proven far different.  AARP has grown into a marketing and sales firm with a public policy advocacy group on the side.  And AARP’s prime source of tax-free revenue from that marketing operation comes from its relationship with UnitedHealthGroup, the nation’s largest health insurer.”

The report exposes the non-profit tax-exempt entity’s reliance on UnitedHealth revenue: “As AARP’s sales and marketing revenue has skyrocketed overall, the percentage of that revenue coming from UnitedHealthGroup has also grown.  In 2007, revenue from UnitedHealth represented 57% of AARP’s marketing income, or $283.7 million.  By 2017, both numbers had grown substantially:  Income from UnitedHealth comprised 69% of AARP’s marketing revenue, and had risen to a whopping $627.2 million—more than double the amount of just a decade previously.”

Ultimately, the report calls for Congress to investigate AARP’s dealings: “Congress has already investigated AARP and its financial dealings on more than one occasion.  It should do so again and determine whether any legislative and/or regulatory actions—requiring AARP to disclose its financial conflicts to seniors when they apply for Medigap coverage, for instance—can protect AARP’s members from the organization’s unholy alliance with UnitedHealthGroup.”

The entire special report can be viewed online here.

American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting our nation’s commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.  American Commitment engages in critical public policy fights over the size and intrusiveness of government through direct advocacy, strategic policy analysis, and grassroots mobilization.  Visit us online at www.AmericanCommitment.org

Juniper Research Group is a consulting and analytics firm based in Washington, DC, led by CEO Chris Jacobs, a noted policy analyst and author whose opinions and work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Politico and other national news platforms. Jacobs previously served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Heritage Foundation and the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, as well as a policy advisor to Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.  He is the author of “The Case Against Single Payer.” More about Juniper Research Group can be found online at www.JuniperResearchGroup.com.