AARP Pushes Health Reform in California. But Who Benefits?
AARP has grown to be a powerful advocacy group for seniors across the country and in California, where three million of its 38 million members live. So its decision to throw its weight behind health care reform in the state is sure to get the attention of legislators working to pass some type of reform this year. The question remains, however, what exactly will the group be pushing for?
Anyone who questions AARP's influence need only look back to 2003 when the group coughed up $7 million for a media campaign supporting passage of legislation to create the Medicare drug benefit. AARP's endorsement of the program was considered a critical win for its backers in Congress. But who will win from the AARP campaign in California?
AARP maintains that its campaign will not rally behind one specific proposal, but the group chose Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger to kick off its media campaign on Monday in Pasadena, where he spoke about his reform proposal. Neither Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) nor Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) -- both pushing their own health care reform bills in the Legislature -- received an invite for the event.
While Schwarzenegger got all the media coverage, Perata and Núñez continued to work their bills through the Legislature this week. The AARP efforts will, at the least, heighten voter expectations that their leaders will do something on health reform this year.