Republicans' Seniors Scam.
When exactly did the Republicans start operating one of those marketing scams that target the elderly?
It was bad enough when Sarah Palin told a bald Facebook lie that there were “death panels” in the plans to reform health care. It was worse to see Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley flunk the “pants on fire” test as he seconded this myth. Republicans planted the fear that President Obama wants to “kill Granny.” Now they want Granny to kill health care reform.
I understand the marketing. Seniors were the only age group that Obama lost in last year’s election. He was change they didn’t believe in. Now polls suggest the folks covered by Medicare are the least likely to think health care reform will help them. In Gallup polls, almost 40 percent think it will worsen their care.
Then last week Republican Chairman Michael Steele began to sell a “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights”—a pitch that contained no rights but an awful lot of frights. He targeted folks like the white-haired South Carolina man who furiously insisted at a town hall meeting: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” (Memo to the fact-checkers: Public Policy Polling reports that 62 percent of Republicans also think that government should keep out of that government-run program!)
Steele promised, among other things, to outlaw “any effort to ration health care based on age” and “prevent government from dictating the terms of end-of-life care.” I would stipulate that neither of these things is in any version of the bill, but that would just reduce my chance of being invited on Fox News from zero to none.
He also promised to “protect Medicare”—presumably from the plan to save $500 billion out of a projected growth in its spending. He did not mention that the proposals would also close the “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage, provide subsidies to low-income seniors and give the Medicare trust fund five more years of life.
This is not just a robo-call to enlist senior citizens in making this Obama’s “Waterloo.” Republicans are basing the sales pitch on the idea that expensive care is the best care and that what elders really want is more. In health care, that translates into endless doctors visits, tests, procedures and maybe even more ventilators.