Bad medicine: phony seniors group launders drug money in mediScare campaign

  • August 12, 2009

Shame on big pharma for lying to seniors.

Our headline is sensational – just like the television ad which inspires this post. But while the commercial is full of distortions and outright lies, our headline is merely pithy.

The sponsor of the ad is a group called The 60 Plus Association, which describes itself as a “non-partisan seniors advocacy group” but which a report in the AARP Bulletin calls a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. They note that “virtually all their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source – the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.”

Astroturf posers

There’s actually a name for this type of group – they are called “astroturf,” meaning they are pretending to be a grassroots organization while they are really a front, a sham, for corporate interests. The television commercial asserts that the health reform legislation moving through Congress would slash Medicare benefits, take the elderly’s doctors away and even euthanize them if their treatments were deemed too expensive. The commercial, while far-fetched, is effective with its top voice talent and high production values. It’s meant to tug at the heartstrings while simultaneously putting the fear of God into our elderly.

The executive vice president for policy at AARP, John Rother,  has harsh words for the 60 Plus Association. On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show August 9, he said “I don’t think you can look at those commercials and not conclude that seniors are the target of a very intentional scare campaign … many seniors of course are worried about change because they depend on Medicare, they are perhaps not in the best of health and they definitely want to know that Medicare will be there, their doctor will be there when they need (them) … we feel there is nothing to be scared about in the actual legislation.”

Legislation will actually HELP seniors, AARP says

“When we (AARP) have looked at this bill, and we’ve read every page, ” Rother continued, “we’ve concluded that the bills proposed in the Congress would be good for seniors, (they) would actually help them afford their medications better, make sure their doctors are there when they need them.”

For more about the 60 Plus Association, visit Sourcewatch.