Dems rise to AARP's defense ahead of 2012 budget showdown

Meanwhile, Ways and Means Republicans have been asking questions about the royalties AARP receives for endorsing Medicare supplemental insurance, or Medigap, plans. Republicans allege that AARP stands to benefit from the law as seniors replace their Medicare Advantage plans for Medigap coverage.

"The facts show AARP no longer operates like a seniors' advocacy organization; instead it more closely resembles a for-profit insurance company," Ways and Means health subcommittee chairman Wally Herger (D-Calif.) said.

AARP chief executive Barry Rand took issue with the GOP's characterizations on Friday.

He pointed out that Republicans' "investigation" consists mostly of documents publicly available on AARP's website. And he testified that AARP's royalties from endorsing insurance products serve to keep members' dues low — $16 a year — and support the association's mission of helping seniors.

"We also reject the conclusion that we are not good stewards of our non-profit status," Rand said. "The revenue that AARP receives from lending its name to products and services goes directly to fulfilling our mission and serving people 50-plus.”

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