Senior Citizens Group Pledges To "Re-Evaluate" Its Scare Mailer

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

A senior issues group that caused an uproar by sending out a mailer jam-packed with misleading scare tactics regarding health care reform now says it will "re-evaluate" its position.

On Tuesday, the Huffington Post reported that The Senior Citizens League, an officially non-partisan organization, was distributing mailers and surveys to seniors warning them that the privacy of their medical information would be in danger, and that late-in-life care would be limited, under Democratic-authored legislation. Some of the claims were sourced to the much-discredited former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey.

The group initially defended the distribution of the mailer with the argument that "concerns have not been fully addressed by Congress or the administration."

Several hours after publication, however, Shannon G. Benton, executive director at the Senior Citizens League, offered a far more contrite response to the Huffington Post. Insisting that the mailer was not meant to be a "scare" piece designed to turn the public opinion of seniors against health care reform, Benton clarified her organization's purpose and pledged to consider the reaction the mailer had engendered.

We appreciate the concerns you raised in your article, as well as the feedback of your readers. As a result of your article, we will re-evaluate our position regarding The National Task Force on Medicare Reform (which, it should be noted, is different than the health care reform bill currently being considered by Congress).

It is never our intent to "scare" seniors - our all-volunteer Board of Trustees is composed almost entirely of seniors in their 70s and 80s, and they believe passionately in the need to inform seniors of anything that might violate their privacy and reduce their benefits.

Many of your readers posted that we are a "Republican" organization. If our record is evaluated throughout our history rather than on a single mailing, one would easily conclude that we are decidedly nonpartisan. In fact, our organization's PAC donates roughly equal amounts to Democrats and Republicans. The majority of issues on which we work on non-controversial: we have lobbied for better Social Security benefits for seniors, a fairer COLA that accurately reflects the costs seniors incur, and an elimination of the Medicare "doughnut hole."

As a member-based organization, we take seriously the feedback of seniors, our members, and the public-at-large. We appreciate you giving us the opportunity to make our organization even better.

Sincerely,

Shannon Benton
Executive Director
The Senior Citizens League

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