In a coup for House Democrats, AARP will endorse sweeping health-care overhaul legislation, officials said today. An endorsement from the seniors' lobby was crucial when then-President Bush pushed the Medicare prescription drug benefit through a closely divided Congress in 2003. House Democrats are hoping it will work the same political magic for them.
Backing the 10-year, $1.2 trillion House bill is a tricky move for AARP. Many retirees are concerned about cuts in Medicare payments to medical providers, which will be used to finance an expansion of health insurance coverage to millions of working families who now lack it. Also, AARP says its membership is about evenly divided among Democrats, Republicans and independents, meaning its endorsement could anger many members.