Dark Money groups are at it again. They are falsely attacking Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and scaring senior citizens that their Medicare benefits are being threatened.
Nothing is further from the truth.
They are trying to trick seniors into thinking that Manchin favors taking money from seniors, when in fact he is pushing to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for those on Medicare.
We are bombarded with ads from the “60 Plus Association,” which bills itself as “the right alternative” to the well-respected, nonpartisan American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Their ads accuse Manchin of pushing to “strip” Medicare of $300 billion in funding. This claim has been debunked by several sources, including an in-depth analysis by The Washington Post in a June 17 article entitled, “Ad Targeting Manchin on Prescription Drugs Uses Misleading Math.”
The ads accuse Manchin of “changing positions” on Medicare funding. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is Manchin has always supported repealing a provision in the law that prohibited Medicare from negotiating the price of prescriptions drugs—something every other private insurance and health plan does. This provision was in the Build Back Better proposal. Manchin opposed the overall bill, but not the Medicare savings provision. In fact, he is working to pass it as separate legislation that could be voted on in the Senate as early as next week.
The proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices would reduce government spending by about $96 billion from 2022 through 2031, a 10-year period. That is because some drugs would be less expensive, therefore the government would pay less to subsidize pharmaceutical companies.
The $300 billion number being thrown around is taking the savings that would be realized and falsely presuming the money would be spent elsewhere over a longer period. Medicare savings can result in reduced costs to seniors, by allowing them to benefit from lower drug prices and lower out of pocket costs.
Why is this proposal important, not just to seniors, but to everyone? We each know that medications are getting more expensive, especially new ones that hit the market. Thanks to significant advances in medical research, we all benefit from these new medications. Getting them to seniors at a reasonable cost is our obligation to those who helped build this country and to the generations to come.
Medicare recently approved a revolutionary new Alzheimer’s medication that shows great promise in alleviating the horror of the disease on those suffering and their loved ones. Developing such a specialized drug is expensive. This drug currently costs $56,000. What is wrong with allowing Medicare to negotiate a lower price for a medication which impacts so many? Nothing. Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices like other insurance companies.
So why would the 60 Plus Association be opposed to this legislation and try to mislead us into thinking it is bad for seniors? The answer is an old one: follow the money.
60 Plus Association is an offshoot of the Koch organization. Its funding for the campaign is coming from Koch and its traditional donors. Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical companies often referred to as Big Pharma have been major contributors. Why? Because negotiating lower drug prices with one of the largest insurance pools in the United States will reduce their profits. They want to keep making huge profits on the backs of our senior citizens.
60 Plus Association has opposed everything from the Affordable Care Act to relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although it bills itself as being “nonpartisan,” it almost exclusively supports Republican candidates and funds attack ads against Democrats like Manchin.
60 Plus Association does not have clean hands in its efforts to mislead citizens. According to the New York Times, the Federal Elections Commission fined 60 Plus Association $50,000 for breaking federal disclosure rules. That is a significant fine for a dark money organization.
AARP is the most respected voice for senior citizens for a reason: it analyzes what is best for our elderly and supports or opposes policies which impact them. It does not receive funding from Koch and Big Pharma, which is why we are being bombarded with false attack ads claiming Manchin is trying to take money away from seniors. AARP supports Manchin’s proposal, because it would benefit seniors, give them better access to life-saving medications, and lower Medicare costs.
60 Plus Association knows that this legislation is popular, and is trying to change your mind, and put pressure on Manchin to change his, all to preserve their profits.
The next time you see or receive one of these ads, remember they are false and misleading. There are not “two Joe Manchins” on this issue. He has always supported allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
There is no proposal to divert the savings to other programs. The savings will benefit Medicare and, most importantly, its recipients.
The Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee unanimously condemns these efforts to frighten and worry our seniors.