Yesterday, an amendment sponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennet guaranteeing no Medicare benefit takeaways because of healthcare reform passed 100-0. Among those voting for it: Arizona's John McCain, who's featured in current Benet-targeting robocalls claiming that healthcare legislation would "[cut] vital Medicare coverage for our seniors."
Lauren Weiner, spokeswoman for the progressive advocacy group Americans United for Change, emphasizes that these assertions were inaccurate even before Bennet's amendment passed.
"He claims that the current legislation being considered is going to create massive Medicare cuts, which is completely not true," she says.
"The actual numbers are being cut because of efficiencies that are going to be found -- cleaning up fraud and waste in Medicare," she continues. "That's what's being cut out, and that will hopefully save money in the end, giving better quality and services, not less."
Weiner believes Bennet is clearly the target of the robocalls being heard in Colorado -- reportedly 250,000 of them, with more ringing out in Nebraska and Arizona, plus operator-introduced calls in North Dakota.
"That's one of the big reasons why Colorado's in the mix," she says. "The national Republicans who are behind this think they can sway the debate. But we know seniors are smarter than that. They realize no guaranteed benefits are going to be cut from Medicare."
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How to counter this strategy? Via different robocalls, of course. Here's the script for calls that'll be going out under the auspices of Americans United for Change:
Hi, I'm calling from Americans United for Change to set the record straight. You may have received a political call that tries to frighten seniors -- a call that claims health insurance reform will cut Medicare benefits. That is just false.
In fact, AARP has said the health care bill doesn't reduce any guaranteed Medicare benefits -- none.
You know the AARP is looking out for seniors. And if they're not convinced by these political scare tactics, you shouldn't be either.
But here's the thing, the government pays insurance companies $1.14 to do the same things for seniors that Medicare itself can do just as well for a dollar? Health care reform would end that waste -- and use the money we'd save to help seniors pay for their prescription drugs and make other improvements to Medicare.
That's why the insurance companies want to kill health care reform. Call Senator Bennet ask him to support health insurance reform and keep standing up for us.
As you can see, the text doesn't mention McCain by name -- but Weiner does. "Senator McCain, of all people, shouldn't be out there trying to scare seniors," she says. "But that's what's happening."