AARP‘s support, or limited support (depending on whether you ask President Obama or AARP), of the President’s Health Care Plan has apparently angered so many members that, according to AARP, between 50,000 and 60,000 members have left the organization since July 1st.
Yowzer! Was it the supposed “death panels” claim, general opposition to a government run insurance plan, or just conservative leaning members that have had enough of the group? Either way, the mass exodus of members has caught the attention of the New York Times and AARP itself. Read:
Jim Dau, a spokesman for AARP, said in an interview that while AARP took such rebellions seriously, it had endured them before. In 2003, it lost 70,000 to 80,000 members over its support for a Medicare prescription drug program. In 2005, the organization lost 8,000 to 10,000 members for opposing efforts to privatize Social Security.
What may be different this time is that it appears members are flocking to a relatively new organization called American Seniors Association (ASA). According to their “About Us” page, their mission is to “provide seniors with the choices, information, and services they need to live healthier, wealthier lives.” However, they bill themselves more as a conservative option that stands in opposition to AARP, though they don’t mention AARP by name. Instead they say things like:
- At American Seniors Association, we don’t just take the government’s side like some other associations.
- We are not some big liberal bureaucracy here to try to scare you into going along with Big Government.
- If you’re tired of having some association you’ve never met claiming to speak for you in Washington DC, then the American Seniors Association is a perfect new home for you.
They also state in big red letters across their site’s header: NOW YOU HAVE A CHOICE!
The AARP’s total membership is massive, so losing 50-60k members will not hurt the organization, but news of an alternative to the AARP may have longer-term implications for the organization. The influx of new members to the American Seniors Association, and the media attention that comes with it, represents a significant turning point for their group.
The question now is – can the ASA capitalize on this moment and use it to build momentum, enough to become a serious driving force in elder policy?
Watch this CBS news report for similar information: