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AARP in the Doghouse

The president isn’t the only one with problems keeping his base happy. USA Today reports:

AARP, which has lost tens of thousands of members over its support for efforts to revamp the health care system, is preparing a post–Labor Day blitz to try to cast itself as a politically impartial advocate on health care issues. “To be clear: AARP has not endorsed any comprehensive health care reform bill — but we are fighting for a solution that improves health care for our members,” the group’s CEO, Barry Rand, and president, Jennie Chin Hansen, wrote to members on Tuesday.

[. . .]

Since July 1, many of the 60,000 AARP members who have quit over concerns about health care legislation said they were worried it could lead to cuts in Medicare. Although AARP has not endorsed any specific plan, its general support for a system change left many members with the impression it backs the Democrats’ bill.

The resignations surprised leaders of the 40-million-member lobbying group, even though it signed up 400,000 new members during the same period.

It seems AARP was completely taken by surprise. They had no idea their members cared about rationing:

AARP’s legislative director, David Certner, says the concerns seniors are raising now about rationing and cuts to their benefits are far different from those seniors have voiced for the past several years — concerns that prompted AARP to endorse plans for health care system changes. Those concerns, he says, were about the high cost of health care, the difficulty getting insurance for those between 50 and 64 years old who don’t yet qualify for Medicare and the high cost of prescription drugs.

“The last thing I want is for members to feel we’re not representing them,” says Lori Parham, AARP’s Florida director.

Well, maybe they should go on a listening tour—or better yet, hold some town-hall meetings (perhaps a joint event with the AMA, whose members are also bewildered by their organization’s support of a bill antithetical to the interests of its members).

It seems that lots of health-care “leaders” have been shocked to learn that their members don’t agree with a government takeover of health care. If they want to remain leaders, they’d do well to get in touch with those folks and get out of the Obama-cheerleading business.