WASHINGTON (AP) — They’re throwing granny off a cliff!
That’s the not-so-subtle message Republicans and Democrats seem to be converging on for political ads on health care this year, featuring heavy doses of what each side alleges the other will do to wreck Medicare.
From the Democrats’ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) to GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s privatization plan for future Medicare recipients, there’s something about health care legislation that makes it a breeding ground for wild allegations.
Families feel vulnerable to the catastrophic costs of serious illness, and few understand the labyrinth of private and government insurance, allowing partisans to fan their worst fears. Political pros play on health care worries to sway older voters.
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“It is easy to deceive on the issue because the knowledge base of the electorate when it comes to the complexities of health care is relatively low,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on political communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center.
It would be hard to top Sarah Palin’s now-debunked assertion that “death panels” lurked in the recesses of PPACA, but don’t be surprised if that happens.
“Many people believe crazy things about health care because they want to believe them,” said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Today’s outlandish claims remind him of fears about fluoridated drinking water in the 1950s.
Sound far-fetched? It’s already started.
Earlier this year, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum lent credence to an unfounded rumor that the Obama administration would deny advanced treatment to stroke patients over the age of 70, allowing only comfort care. It didn’t seem to matter that two doctors’ groups and the Health and Human Services Department refuted the rumor.
And as for throwing granny off a cliff, two political ads are already depicting that — one from the left and one from the right. Both dramatizations are getting attention on the Internet.
The ad from the left, by The Agenda Project, features an actress playing an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Pushing her is a younger man acting the part of Ryan, R-Wis. “America the Beautiful” plays in the background.
But the outing to a scenic overlook turns scary when he steers for the edge. She tries to fight, but he dumps her over the cliff. The caption urges viewers to let Ryan know America wouldn’t be beautiful without Medicare.
The ad from the right, by AmericanDoctors4Truth, shows an actor representing President Obama pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff, after she demands a pacemaker recommended by her doctor.