Pembroke Pines, FL. – Whether it’s for runaway deficit spending or for a government takeover of healthcare that directly jeopardizes Medicare services for seniors, Democrat voters who grew up under Franklin D. Roosevelt and recall fondly the days of John F. Kennedy are now leaving the Democratic Party in droves.
Senior citizens are rightly concerned about the radical agenda of the modern Democratic Party- unsustainable deficit spending that directly threatens their children and grandchildren’s prosperity, along with the federal government’s takeover of health care system, also known as “ObamaCare”- comprise an agenda that will have terrible consequences for seniors. Substantial cuts to Medicare occur almost immediately as ObamaCare’s provisions begin to implement. These cuts to Medicare are estimated at $500 billion dollars over the next ten years- these are not merely cuts that are projected for people who retire in the future.
Medicare’s Chief Actuary has publicly stated that two-thirds of hospitals already lose money on services to Medicare patients, even before the implementation of cuts that are mandated by ObamaCare. If Medicare will be cutting back reimbursements to doctors and hospitals, the bottom line for senior citizens is that they will not receive many of the basic services that they’ve come to expect through Medicare. Doctors who have specialized in serving senior citizens will also be seriously affected by these cuts, forcing many of them out of business- these are the harmful consequences of ObamaCare that will directly impact the responsiveness of our health care system for seniors.
“More and more senior citizens are coming to the realization that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is not a Democrat in the vein of either John F. Kennedy or Franklin D. Roosevelt, and that the Democratic Party is no longer the Party that represents the interests of the senior citizens,” said Karen Harrington, the Republican nominee for challenging Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 20th District. “Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, along with President Obama, represent a new kind of Democrat that believes in unprecedented levels of government intervention and control– from previously unimaginable levels of unsustainable deficit spending, to the government’s takeover of our health care system that will directly jeopardize the quality of health care that citizens will receive- these are direct assaults on our liberties as well as the principles our nation was founded upon. The District’s senior citizens are becoming more aware that the agenda of the Democrat Party not only threatens their economic prosperity, but the hopes that they have for their children and grandchildren to live in a free and prosperous society,” said Harrington.
*from a press release provided to CDN by Karen Harrington for Congress, Inc
On Monday, I had the opportunity to spend a little under an hour with the President of The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity, Dr. Larry Hunter. Dr. Hunter is a supply-side economist that has worked in the Reagan White House as well as numerous Conservative initiatives such as Empowering America and the Social Security Institute.
On September 15th, Dr. Hunter launched what may be the first credible challenger to AARP’s monopoly on senior citizen and baby boomer advocacy and support. From the Alliance website, wethealliance.com, their mission statement sums up the organization’s purpose.
The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity Association is an association of advocacy groups (“Allies” or “Alliance Partners”) and their members working to ensure a prosperous, enriched and secure retirement for today’s seniors and the seniors of tomorrow while working in the political arena to promote conservative American values, principles and public policies that affect the quality of our members’ lives.
In talking with Dr. Hunter I wanted to straighten out some conflicting information on the internet about the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity. Many sites report the Alliance as a 501(c)4, or non-profit and that Dick Armey, Jack Kemp and Dorcas Hardy are co-chairs. It would seem that this is all ancient history as Dr. Hunter explained that to be a very old press release detailing a past project.
The Alliance is now organized as a for-profit Virginia Business Trust, with Dr. Hunter as the President. Dr. Hunter explained why a for-profit model is required to compete against AARP:
If we were going to take on AARP, we had to take them on for what they are. That means you have to have a for profit business who can provide real goods and services to members to compete with them [AARP].
Dr. Hunter went on to explain that many attempts to take on AARP as a non-profit have struggled. Why would AARP as a non-profit have an advantage over other non-profits?
AARP.org states that their organization is a non-profit
Founded in 1958, AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives.
This statement is fact, AARP is a registered 501(c)4 non-profit organization as far as the law is concerned, but, as an article in the SeniorJournal stated, it’s behavior is not similar to most non-profits. It sells insurance products to the tune of several hundred million dollars per year and the membership that it’s members pay for is not a traditional membership .. they don’t vote for AARP officers.
In other words, AARP claims non-profit status for tax exemption purposes, but in all truth, appears to operate much like a for-profit organization – that does not have to pay any taxes. Imagine that, a tax-exempt insurance company?
With the Alliance choosing to engage AARP head-on, how will they offer better and less-expensive products to the 50+ crowd considering AARP’s questionable tax-exempt edge? Enter: the free market.
According to Dr. Hunter, AARP finds a vendor or carrier and first asks them for an endorsement fee. Then, for each product or service sold, a “cut” is taken by AARP. This double-hit is going to be passed on to someone – the members. These single endorsements might also be costly to the AARP membership as the vendors have little competition within the AARP population. The practices, as described by Dr. Hunter, do not seem competitive and would seem to limit choice. What pressure is there for these vendors/carriers to keep prices low? In fact, it seems more of a monopolistic approach wherein an AARP endorsement gives an endorsed vendor a choke-hold on a significant market.
The Alliance is taking a free-market approach. With a supply-side economist at the helm, could it have gone any other way? The Alliance is creating an exchange where vendors and carriers will compete for every dollar of Alliance member’s money. Dr. Hunter goes on to explain the exchange.
We are going to create a real-time shopping model. In which, we are not going to offer single-endorsed products, we are going to bring in a whole stable of top-of-the line insurance carriers and vendors and then those carriers and vendors are going to compete with each other for our member’s business.
Each vendor will know that they must provide a good quality product at an attractive price or they will be drummed out of the exchange by simple market economics. As an added differentiator, according to Dr. Hunter, the Alliance will not sell insurance like AARP. They will have insurance carriers in their competitive exchange for members to choose from.
I shared with Dr. Hunter that several of Conservative Daily News’ readers have emailed or commented that they feel that some of AARP’s programs and discounts are rip-offs and asked him how the Alliance might address these concerns.
I don’t know what [your readers] mean by rip-offs, but what I have seen is that companies will offer a discount. To get the discount, you have to sign-up with a credit or debit card. Your credit card or bank account will be hit each month in order to pay for whatever you signed-up for. Many times, people are signing up for these programs and don’t really understand what they are getting or what they are agreeing to do. They will come back in a couple months and their credit card has been hit four times. . I can guarantee your readers that we will have none of that. Our discounts are going to be a coupon- basis. For example we have a very good restaurant coupon. If you agree to pay $5 a month for the premium upgrade, you will automatically get a $25.00 restaurant coupon to the restaurant of your choice. .. if anybody comes back to us and says they don’t want to keep doing this .. we’ll give them their money back.
Along with questionable discounts, readers have also mentioned that AARP seemed to be pushing increasingly left-wing policies. Dr. Hunter even mentioned this AARP town hall video that illustrates how out-of-touch AARP may have become.
This brings out another facet of the Alliance’s competitive strategy against AARP – policy.
We are pursuing what we call a common sense conservative consensus. People have been thirsting to join an association that caters to baby boomers and seniors that they find compatible philosophically and politically.
So what policy initiatives would the Alliance be pushing in the near future? He said that the Alliance won’t get deeply involved in social or foreign policy issues, but did make clear some initiatives they will be pushing:
“Do everything in our power to repeal Obamacare .. because it was enacted under false pretenses”
Push for across-the-board government spending cuts
Push for across-the-board tax cuts
Get government back to within Constitutional limits
Restore the Constitutionally provided for powers to States
The push for across-the-board spending cuts led to another question – how to cut spending but not gut Medicare and Social Security? I asked Dr. Hunter if the Alliance would play a part in helping reduce spending and defining that optimal government size.
If we do this the right way, we can protect all the safety net programs from major cuts for current retirees and baby boomers who are about to retire. Reform the programs for younger workers and cut other government programs. It is going to be a challenge, no doubt about that. But, not as much of a challenge as the liberals would have you believe.. we are going to fight like bulldogs against any proposals, Republican or Democrat, to take a hatchet to Medicare [or] Social Security.
Acknowledging that the Alliance represented a policy agenda that should appeal to a broad swath of Conservatives, I asked how someone under the required 50 year old age limit could help the Alliance in it’s goals.
He offered the idea of buying the membership for your parents and upgrade to the family plan so the children of seniors and boomers can also take advantage of the discounts, offers and community forums.
In a press release Monday, the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity announced that it would be announcing the “Conservative Alternative to AARP” on September 15th.
“The Alliance offers seniors and boomers a greater choice of products and services, bigger discounts and lower prices than AARP; plus a conservative political philosophy and agenda that will go head to head with AARP’s liberalism in Washington, DC.”– Alliance for Retirement Prosperity Association president Lawrence A. Hunter
Washington, D.C.—The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity Association (WeTheAlliance.com) today announced that it will officially launch on September 15, providing seniors and Baby Boomers nationwide, “a true conservative alternative to AARP’s leftwing agenda.”
According to Alliance president, Dr. Lawrence Hunter, “The Alliance will offer seniors more discounts on a wider range of higher quality products and services, along with lower prices and superior customer service than its competitor AARP.”
“Plus,” Hunter added, “the Alliance also will provide a powerful and effective alternative for seniors and Boomers across the country who are sick and tired of watching AARP spend their hard-earned money on its hard-left agenda.”
The Alliance, a for-profit membership association, intends to segment the market by targeting politically moderate-to-conservative consumers who have become disaffected with AARP. But the new association also plans to appeal to the 80 percent of Americans in the 50+ market place who are not currently affiliated with AARP.
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Hunter criticized AARP’s endorsement of President Obama’s healthcare makeover, calling it a “betrayal of their members.” Wrote Hunter, “ObamaCare guts Medicare with drastic reductions in doctor and hospital reimbursements that will create havoc and chaos in health care for seniors.”
The Hunter op-ed continued, “The president’s concept of spreading the wealth includes sacking the Medicare system, on which America’s seniors have come to rely for medical care, in favor of others the president’s progressive vision deems more worthy. The president’s pledge that ‘If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it’ clearly does not apply to America’s seniors.”
Hunter was even more critical of AARP in a New York Daily News commentary taking the controversial group to task for, “selling out seniors in a crass effort to feather its own corporate nest by supporting the draconian cuts to Medicare in order to stimulate demand for its lucrative Medigap supplemental insurance polices that pick up where Medicare leaves off.”