FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2011
AARP Media Relations
AARP Response to Recent Letter from Reps. Herger, Boustany and Reichert
WASHINGTON – AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Kevin Donnellan issued the following statement in response to a recent letter from Reps. Wally Herger, Charles Boustany and Dave Reichert:
“We have received and are reviewing the recent letter from Reps. Herger, Boustany and Reichert. Based on our initial review, we are disappointed that the letter seeks to decry the exact kind of pro-consumer, market-changing efforts that AARP has led since our founding in 1958.
“AARP’s mission is to help older Americans have independence, choice and control to help them live the lives they choose. In addition to our extensive advocacy and public service efforts, AARP encourages the private sector to offer more consumer-friendly options for older Americans in areas like health insurance, financial services and mobile phone service by branding certain products that are consistent with our social advocacy goals.
“The letter criticizes AARP’s commitment to quality control in the oversight of AARP-branded product and service providers as being too rigorous. We have spent more than five decades proving our commitment to helping older Americans obtain quality, affordable health and financial security options as they age, so of course we take seriously how others use our name. Those providers obviously have the choice to work with us, which requires meeting our quality standards, or not.
“More confusing, though, is that the letter cites some of the clearest examples of how AARP’s work to influence the private sector has helped create stronger consumer protections and options in markets where too many seniors had previously been left behind. UnitedHealth Group’s AARP-branded Medicare supplemental insurance plans help many of the sickest and most disadvantaged seniors who would otherwise be denied insurance by accepting more than 99% of applicants, which is far higher than the market standard. The AARP-branded program from HearUSA was built around consumer protections like three-year warranties on all hearing aids and battery offerings that have now become the standard in the marketplace.
“AARP takes seriously our commitment to making sure AARP-branded products are consistent with our social advocacy mission, and in doing so we’ve helped millions of older Americans get help that was previously kept out of reach. We are disappointed that this work should be the subject of Congressional criticism.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.