60 Plus' Legal Defense, Like Its Ads, Doesn't Offer Up Any Facts

September 24, 2010 10:47 am ET — Kate Conway

As the 2010 midterm election cycle heats up, some of the old anti-health care reform groups are popping back up to attack Democrats for passing a law that stands to benefit millions of Americans.  One of these groups, 60 Plus Association, has recently come under scrutiny for releasing a round of misleading ads about the effect of health care reform on seniors.

In response to these ads, the group Health Care For America Now! (HCAN) sent a letter to 83 television stations that have been running 60 Plus ads, asking that the misleading ads be taken down.

In a desperate defense of its right to prey on the fears of voters, the 60 Plus Association responded by sending a letter of its own to the stations, purporting to fact-check HCAN's letter but instead only adding to the confusion.

Selectively citing its sources in order portray the health care reform law in the worst possible light, 60 Plus' letter reiterates several of the common conservative distortions forwarded by its ads: that the new health care law will "cut" Medicare and could thereby jeopardize seniors' access to quality care. Despite 60 Plus' insistence that its advertisements are "not in the slightest bit 'false and misleading,'" these claims are, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

Without proper explanation of the detailed and comprehensive health care bill — which, of course, none of the ads provides — 60 Plus' blathering on about "cuts" to Medicare dishonestly suggests that seniors' benefits will be cut. In fact, the much-discussed "cuts" are actually savings produced by bringing what the federal government pays to private companies that administer Medicare Advantage plans into alignment with the cost of government-administered plans.

Because private Medicare Advantage administrators will see a gradual reduction in what the federal government pays them, some Medicare Advantage providers may reduce the extra benefits they offer on top of what traditional Medicare provides, and it's possible that some private providers may choose to stop carrying the Medicare Advantage plans. But to use that hypothetical situation to suggest that seniors will lose coverage — or that it will "jeopardize seniors' access to doctors" — is dishonest. Seniors will all still be entitled to the benefits that traditional Medicare offers — benefits, by the way, that are significantly better under the new health care law.

The 60 Plus letter is a self-righteous attempt to bully stations into carrying advertisements that intentionally misinform the public, and its effort to disguise itself as a champion of free speech — calling HCAN's original letter an "attempt to deprive the public of information relevant to public policy and elections" and to "silence speech" — is disingenuous.

To counter 60 Plus' accusation that accurate discussion of the issues at hand amounts to "editorializing," we've compiled a number of sources that seek to help the public understand health care reform rather than to obscure reality for political reasons.

You can take a look at our fact-check of 60 Plus' letter HERE and review our own fact-checks of 60 Plus ads HERE.