The 60 Plus Association, a front group for the insurance companies, is running a deceptive $5 million television ad campaign to attack Democratic candidates who stood up for consumers by supporting the Affordable Care Act.
Most of what these ads say is simply not true. Health Care for America Now (HCAN) yesterday sent a letter to 83 television stations serving 16 congressional districts and called on them to immediately stop airing these outrageous ads, sponsored by a fake grassroots organization that appears to have no real members but definitely has lots of corporate funding.
Media Matters already had compiled a catalog of the 60 Plus Association's advertising misrepresentations and falsehoods going back to the middle of the health care fight last year. Now the highly regarded and nonpartisan FactCheck.org has a new analysis showing that these ads are propaganda -smears based on lies and distortions. Americans United for Change summarized the many falsehoods in memos sent to reporters in these districts yesterday. MoveOn.org, HCAN and others are organizing grassroots pressure on the stations to take the ads down.
The goal of these ads is to scare seniors into voting for Republican candidates who will side with insurance company lobbyists over consumers. The ads unfairly attack Democrats by spreading the lie that the new health care law will cut Medicare benefits and disrupt their care. Here are a few of the ad's specific lies:
• The ads say that the new law cuts $500 billion from Medicare and will hurt the health benefits seniors receive. That is not true. The Affordable Care Act eliminates waste, fraud and abuse, including overpayments to insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage plans.
• The ads say that the new law means "seniors could lose their doctors" or that it "threatens seniors' ability to keep their own doctor." Nothing in the Affordable Care Act restricts any Medicare enrollee's access to the doctor of their choice.
• The ads feature seniors saying the law will "hurt the quality of our care." The fact is that the law forbids reductions in conventional Medicare benefits, adds no-cost preventive services, closes the "doughnut hole" gap in the prescription drug benefit and makes substantial improvements in quality of care.
The truth is that the new law strengthens Medicare without cutting anyone's guaranteed benefits. It cuts waste, fraud and abuse, reduces prescription drug costs, and helps seniors remain independent and stay in their own homes.
In their Sept. 17 report, FactCheck.org sums it up perfectly: "Most of the ads conclude with someone looking at the camera and pretending to tell the targeted lawmaker, 'You're fired!' Our question is, who gets fired for making misleading ads?"
These ads are a reminder that there are two clear sides in this fight. When it comes to health care, the Republicans are hoping that voters won't figure out which side the GOP is really on.
That's why today, six months after enactment of the new law, is so important. On Sept. 23, several significant consumer protections take effect that end the worst of insurance company abuses. The Republicans voted against every single one of these protections.
The new health care law has many benefits, including:
• Requiring that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.
• Making it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage for people who get sick.
• Cracking down on unjustified premium hikes.
• Placing a cap on out-of-pocket health care costs.
• Providing free preventive care.
When the Republicans say they want to repeal the health care law, they're talking about giving health care back to the insurance companies so they can deny our care, drop us when we get sick and jack up our rates whenever they please.
Their repeal proposal is as coldhearted as it is unworkable and would add $143 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Now the Republicans are releasing a new health care "plan." It's an election year gimmick. They picked Sept. 23 for the release in hopes of raining on the Democrats' parade.
But the Republicans miss the point. Today is not about the Democrats or any political party. It's not about competing over a news cycle, and it's not about election year "plans" or partisan rhetoric. Today is another milestone in the new health care law that will make a real difference in peoples' lives, and it's a day when the Republicans again have reminded us which side they are on.
Follow Ethan Rome on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@HCAN