Friday, March 30, 2012

Truth Squad:60 Plus Association: 'Urge Senator Stabenow to support real Medicare reform'

Who: 60 Plus Association
Featured material: Television ad
Truth squad call: Flagrant foul
Questionable statements:
“Hi friend. I’m Pat Boone.”
Who is Pat Boone and why is he appearing in this ad? And whose friend is he?
Boone, who may be unknown to anyone under 50, is a singer who’s had an eclectic career. He was one of the most successful pop crooners of the 1950s, morphed into doing heavy-metal covers for a brief period in the 1990s and now hosts a nationally syndicated gospel music radio show.
He also has said he believes President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Obama’s long-form U.S. birth certificate is “Photoshop fraud.”
Boone, 77, is the spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, which describes itself as a conservative alternative to AARP. He also is seen frequently on daytime television as pitchman for a company that makes walk-in bathtubs for the elderly.
Boone: “Last year a lot of promises were made regarding health-care reform, but America’s seniors knew forcing a bill through Congress when Americans overwhelmingly opposed it would be disastrous. And we were right."
The Affordable Care Act, which this ad addresses, was signed into law in March 2010. It is highly controversial, especially the law’s provision that requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the law’s constitutionality over three days, starting March 26.
But the ad’s claim that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the act is overblown.
Polls have been all over the map, but one earlier this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a highly respected health care research organization mentioned in the ad, found Americans are almost evenly split on the law.
Forty-one percent of those in the national poll said they had a favorable view of the act and 40 percent said they had an unfavorable view of it. Nineteen percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
The ad offers no evidence to support Boone’s claim that the Affordable Care Act has been “disastrous.”
Millions of Michigan residents have benefited from the law, according to the Obama administration, which recently released a report on the law’s accomplishments.
But Republicans say the law will raise health-care costs, eliminate jobs and threaten the future of Medicare.
Woman’s voice: "President Obama’s health-care law cuts $500 billion from Medicare and creates a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. It’s like a Medicare IRS with the power to cut Medicare in order to pay for new government programs."
Claims that the Affordable Health Care Act cuts $500 billion are misleading. The law attempts to slow spending by $500 billion over 10 years, but overall Medicare spending will still rise during that period, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The board Boone is talking about is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would be created to help hold down Medicare costs. They are not “15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats,” but rather health-care experts and other citizens appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate.
The Republican-controlled House voted on March 22 to repeal the board, but the Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
Boone: "This IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) board can ration care and deny certain Medicare treatments so Washington can fund more wasteful spending. Your choices could be limited and you may not be able to keep your own doctor."
The board makes binding recommendations on cutting spending, if Medicare grows beyond certain targets. But it does not have the power to review individual cases or deny treatments.
"Medicare will be bankrupt in nine years."
There is great concern about the long-term financial viability of Medicare. That’s the reason for the creation of IPAB. But Medicare is not on the verge of bankruptcy, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
"But Washington politicians like Debbie Stabenow are ignoring the problem, putting their own re-elections first. Call Senator Stabenow. Urge her to support real Medicare reform and protect our seniors."
Stabenow’s office points to a number of efforts by the senator to preserve Medicare and lower costs for seniors, including support for phasing out the “doughnut hole” prescription-drug cost.
The ad doesn’t explain what it means by “real Medicare reform.” The 60 Plus Association has created a website in which it says the organization says its top priorities are “ending the federal estate tax, saving Social Security and Medicare, repealing Obamacare and creating energy security for seniors.”
"Tell her: unaccountable bureaucrats should never have the power to deny you the care you deserve."
Conservatives, such as the 60 Plus Association, seem to want to have it both ways. They argue that there is no inherent right to health care, but then claim that attempts to limit spending on Medicare are tantamount to withholding care that seniors “deserve.”
Overall impression:
The 60 Plus Association is a 504(c)(4) nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is not required to disclose the source of its funding, and it does not. It was founded in 1992 in Virginia by James L. Martin, a one-time journalist and former Republican operative, according to The organization says it has a “free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.”
The group is running ads against five Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act and are up for re-election this year: Stabenow, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Truth Squad call:
This ad is full of exaggerations, distortions and factual inaccuracies. It represents fear-mongering designed to build support for overturning the Affordable Care Act.
Foul or no foul: Flagrant foul for blatant disregard of facts.

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