American Association of Retired Persons

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The American Association for Retired Persons or AARP is an American nonprofit and nonpartisan organization whose stated purpose is to help people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives. AARP has over 40 million members and offices in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today, AARP is one of the largest and most influential lobbying groups in the United States. According to a 2001 Fortune magazine article it then ranked second only to the National Rifle Association among the 25 most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, where it has its headquarters. According to its website, "AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age, leading positive social change and delivering value to members through information, advocacy and service."[1] [2]



AARP was founded in 1958 By Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. It was created originally as a branch of the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), which Dr. Andrus had established in 1947 to promote her philosophy of productive aging, and in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance. In 1963, Dr. Andrus established an international presence for AARP by founding the Association of Retired Persons International (ARPI), with offices in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. While ARPI disbanded in 1969, AARP has continued to develop networks and form coalitions within the worldwide aging community, promoting the well-being of older persons internationally through advocacy, education and service. [3]

Current objectives and activities

AARP is most noted for its continued efforts on behalf of senior citizens. AARP annually spends a percentage of its revenue in lobbying politicians at the state and federal level. According to its website its goal is to work on issues of importance to senior citizens this includes such things as health care, financial stability, and being in livable communities. AARP publishes a magazine that is the largest circulated magazine in the world. AARP is also involved in a range of charities and is active in reaching out to the senior community as well the community at large to promote aging issues. [4]

Organizational structure

The CEO of AARP is Barry Rand. The President of AARP is W. Lee Hammond. He will serve as AARP President for the 2010-2012 biennium.[5]


AARP has had a number of notable achievements over its years in existence. One of its most significant victories came in 1965 with the enactment of Medicare. AARP played a large role in pushing for the implementation of Medicare, which is a government-run program that provides health insurance to people over 65. At the time it was a controversial proposal but AARP remained a strong advocate for its enactment. Medicare was eventually signed in to law by President Lyndon Johnson. Before Medicare health insurance for seniors was a big problem with only about half being able to receive coverage. Within three years of the enactment of Medicare that figure was raised to 97%.[6]

Public perception and controversies

In April 1995, Sen. Alan Simpson launched an investigation into AARP's finances, including its receipt of government grants, which expanded into public hearings on the organization's tax-exempt status.[7] The hearings did not result in a change to the AARP's tax-exempt status and Senator Simpson remains a vocal critic of the organization.[8]

AARP has been very public in its support of President Barack Obama's current health care plan, which has caused its membership totals to take a slight hit due to the fact that according to most polls senior citizens oppose Obama's health care plan. Related to this issue, Rep. David Reichert (R-Washington), recently launched an investigation of AARP over their support of Medicare cuts that are part of the health care overhaul. The accusation being made is that AARP is not acting in the best interests of seniors by supporting these cuts. [9]


  3. AARP History
  4. "The Things We Do and How We Do Them," Interest Group X. 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from
  5. Who we are, AARP
  6. Medicare at 40: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges,
  7. Why Stop With the A.A.R.P.? NYTimes, June 16, 1995
  8. Deficit reduction panel warned that it must not fail, NYTimes, November 1, 2011
  9. , 5 November 2009

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