Following up on a Health and Oversight Subcommittees' joint hearing held on April 1st, the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means has called on AARP to provide additional information regarding their financial dealings. The hearing was called to evaluate findings by a report, "Behind the Veil: The AARP America Doesn't Know," that examined the organization's business operations and their status as non-profit tax-exempt entity.
In a letter sent to AARP CEO Barry Rand, Chairmen of the Heath and Oversight Subcommittees, Wally Herger and Charles Boustany, Jr., along with Representative Dave Reichert called on AARP to provide additional answers and documentation related to remaining questions from AARP's participation in the hearing. The request includes fifteen items that AARP is to provide a response to the Subcommittees by May 5, 2011.
The report and hearing that led to this request surround the dealings and interactions of three AARP entities: AARP, Inc, AARP Services and the AARP Foundation. The AARP Services component is the for-profit entity that the group indicates operates independently of the the other two. The letter, however, seeks clarification on the operations and independence of the entities, noting that many of the directors of AARP, Inc also serve on the board of AARP Services.
In a press release, AARP stated that they had not yet received the letter, but they have fully cooperated with the members of Congress and have already submitted hundreds of pages to documents related to requests from the hearing. The organization holds a commitment to transparency and points to a website that they state provides detailed information regarding the financial dealings of the organization and a response to the hearing.
The AARP also provided this video response by President Lee Hammond that rejects some of the conclusions indicated in the report and resulting from the hearing that suggest a conflict between AARP's "drive for profits, the best interests of its members and the organization’s tax-exempt status."
In addition to being the impetus for the hearing, the report on AARP was also sent to the Internal Revenue Service with a request by the three members for an examination on the tax-exempt status of the organization.
The six page letter highlights areas that the three signatories believe that AARP provided incomplete or inconclusive responses to questions posed by the Subcommittees. Many of the questions related to the handling of insurance premiums and royalties received from AARP-branded insurance products.