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article imageAARP Loses Members After Supporting Health Care Reform

By KJ Mullins     Aug 18, 2009 in Politics
The AARP has seen about 60,000 members leave their organization after backing health care reform. The group support's President Obama's health care overhaul plans even if many of its members do not.
The group is used to droves leaving when they stand behind controversial issues.
AARP is backing the health care reform issues with ads and having Obama on an online forum they hosted. The group though has not put total support behind any one of the bills that are being reviewed. If any of the proposed bills reduce the benefits for Medicare the group will not support it.
USA Today reports:
"We take stands on issues that are contentious, it's part of what we do," Nannis said. "And because we have so many members we'll always have a small percentage that disagree with us so strongly they feel they need to cancel membership."
AARP has about 40 million members making it a strong citizen lobby in the government. The group gives senior citizens a very loud voice.
That voice is vital for President Obama's plan to give everyone in the nation health care. Senior citizens fear that for the plan to work they will lose benefits they already have.
AARP knows the power that the group wields, both with the government and with its members.
The Hill reports:
“I don’t think that there is another source that our members find more credible for information than the AARP,” Cheryl Matheis, the AARP’s senior vice president for health strategy said. “If our members are not supportive of this, I don’t see another organization who can make them supportive.”
The group is used to losing vast numbers of members, on average 300,000 members a month cancel their membership. At the same time about 1.5 million will renew memberships.
In the wings is the Atlanta-based American Seniors Association (ASA) who is opposed to the health care plan that Obama supports. ASA is working to get those who are leaving the AARP on this issue to join their organization founded in 2005.
Fox News reports:
"The president told the AARP meeting that opponents are 'making people scared.' Well, they ought to be scared at current proposals," Stuart Barton, president of the organization said, citing congressional analysts' estimates that the plan will cost up to $1.8 trillion over 10 years. "That's absurd in a recession, let alone good times."
The Atlanta Journal reports that AARP is adamant that they will only put their backing on plans that give even more benefits to seniors while still offering health care for those senior's children and grandchildren.
It is possible that in the end the group with the strongest voice will be the victors on this issue. The need in the United States for health care reform is great. In the short term it will cost more money but as citizens get better health care the costs will go down. It's a hard sell in the middle of a recession but the need to have a healthy nation depends on it.
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