AARP Loses Members Over Reform Stance As Other Stakeholders Speak OutCBS News "has learned that up to 60,000 people have cancelled their AARP memberships since July 1, angered over the group's" support of Democratic health care proposals. "Many are switching to the American Seniors Association, a group that calls itself the conservative alternative 'I think that probably the seniors are most upset with cuts in Medicare,' said ASA President Stuart Barton. The American Seniors Association is flat-out against President Obama's plan, which calls for $313 billion dollars in Medicare cuts over ten years ... Last week, Obama told a town meeting in Portsmouth, NH, 'We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors'" (Attkisson, 8/17).
The Associated Press: "The approximately 60,000 (who canceled their memberships) represents members who specifically cited AARP's stance on the health overhaul debate in canceling their membership between July 1 and mid-August, (AARP spokesman Drew) Nannis said. He said that on average AARP loses some 300,000 members a month, but he couldn't say how many more members had quit for other reasons in that time period. He said AARP gained some 400,000 new members during the same period and that 1.5 million members renewed their membership" (8/17).
The American Medical Association is also facing some dissension, Forbes reports. "Within two days of the House passing its health bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee in late July, the AMA gave the President a rare bit of good news by endorsing the bill. It was a shock to many of the group's 250,000 doctor members ... the AMA has also begun to backtrack some, saying that it expects the final bill to look different. Says AMA President James Rohack in a statement: 'We're at the beginning of the process, and we'll stay engaged to improve the final bill'" (Whelan, 8/17).
Meanwhile, patients wonder about their doctor's ties to industry, The Washington Post reports: "...many patients want a better sense of the links their doctors have with industry. Short of asking, patients have few options for gaining such information.
"'I think that is a genuinely difficult and awkward conversation to have,' said Allan Coukell, the director of the Pew Prescription Project. 'Patients are very averse to getting into antagonistic relationships with doctors,' said Cheryl Matheis, senior vice president of health strategies at the senior citizen advocacy group AARP. 'They get farther if they walk an inquisitive line as opposed to an accusatory line'" (Caputo, 8/18).
Finally, soda makers are still fighting back against a proposed tax on their products to help pay for reform, USA Today reports. "Industry groups are fighting a soft-drink tax proposal that is not part of any pending health care measure.
"Still, they're taking no chances. The American Beverage Association has begun a $2 million ad campaign to oppose a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, depicting it as a tax on 'simple pleasures.' Last month, the group joined forces with the National Restaurant Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to launch Americans Against Food Taxes, a coalition of 110 state and local groups. House and Senate committees looked at the tax earlier this year but, as opposition mounted, dropped it from their menu" (Koch, 8/17 ). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.