The AARP is one of the most active lobbies in Washington — its $8.7 million in spending in 2016 ranked 34th out of 3,729 organizations tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics. At least as potent as the group's spending is its ability to influence a bloc of people who are active voters.
The group has already put itself into the debate. When the bill was under consideration in the House, the AARP targeted some lawmakers with phone calls and radio ads.
The age group is key for Republicans, including President Donald Trump. Only 37 percent of Americans in a recent Quinnipiac University poll approved of the job he is doing overall, but that number was 42 percent among people ages 50 to 64.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — who chairs the Senate Aging Committee — cited costs for older Americans as a concern shortly after the CBO score came out Wednesday.
"The goal of any [Obamacare] replacement should be to improve access to quality health care while providing consumers with more choices and restraining costs. Unfortunately, the CBO estimates that 23 million Americans would lose insurance coverage over the next decade, and the impact would disproportionately affect older, low-income Americans," she said.
Collins and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — who has also called the House plan inadequate — have proposed an alternative bill for the Senate to consider.
GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is part of a 13-member health-care working group, reiterated that the Senate would make a plan that differs from the House proposal.
"It's informative to know the estimated impact of the House health care bill, but the Senate is writing its own bill, which will receive its own score from the Congressional Budget Office before the Senate votes," Alexander said in a statement.
The GOP — which holds 52 of 100 seats in the Senate — will almost certainly look to pass a health-care plan by a majority vote, without Democratic help. A bill that differs from the House version would have to go back to the House for consideration.