Knoxville News Sentinel: Alexander is not buying ObamaCare propaganda

Posted on June 11, 2010


U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., knows a slick sales pitch when he sees one. And with a sales tsunami still trying to lift ObamaCare — including one massive effort at taxpayer expense — Alexander ain't buying. On the Senate floor earlier this week, Alexander explained.

'I received the other day a nice envelope from the Department of Health and Human Services with a nice brochure — ‘Medicare and the New Health Care Law: What It Means to You,'' Alexander said. 'I'm one of those Americans who are 65 or older, so I'm a part of Medicare and I was interested to read the brochure because I spent a lot of time on the new health care law. As I read through this brochure, it didn't bear very much relationship to the way I understood the law that I voted on Christmas Eve at the end of last year when we passed this health care law.'

Alexander noted that the first paragraph said seniors could expect 'increased quality health care' under the new law. 'Yet, Medicare's own chief actuary noted in an April 22 memorandum that without intervening legislation to correct the payment cuts in the new law,' Alexander said, 'some providers would ‘end participation in the program' with the effect of ‘possibly jeopardizing access for beneficiaries.' That doesn't sound like increased quality health care to me.'

The brochure said Medicare will stay 'strong and solvent' under ObamaCare. 'Now here's the truth: the $529 billion in cuts to Medicare — no one disputes that we have those — are being used to pay for a $1 trillion health care bill, not to shore up Medicare,' Alexander said. 'Common sense says that if you take $529 billion out of Medicare over the first ten years or $1 trillion out of Medicare over ten years … and you spend almost all of that on something other than Medicare, that's not the way to make Medicare more solvent.'

Alexander listed other flaws before concluding with strong words. 'There is a federal law against propaganda — it says that annual appropriations can't be used ‘for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States,' ' Alexander said. 'I don't know whether this violates the law, but it doesn't tell the truth in the way that we Medicare beneficiaries deserve to have the truth told to us about what the health care law does.'

Alexander and other Republican senators wrote Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebilius on May 26 about the brochure, asking who created it, why the discrepancies, what it cost and who paid for it. As of midweek, Brett Meeks of Alexander's office said they'd received no response.

Some simple math, though, indicates taxpayers paid a bundle. With about 46 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, the cost of printing and mailing a slick, four-color, four-page brochure could easily exceed $50 million.

More slick salesmanship is coming. Politico reported this week that Democrats have formed a sales machine to be headed by former Sen. Tom Daschle and Victoria Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy. With an Orwellian name — The Health Information Center — and a bankroll of $125 million, airwaves, inboxes and mailboxes will be filled with more propaganda between now and November.

With the RealClearPolitics average of the last half-dozen national polls on ObamaCare showing 41 percent in favor and 52 percent opposed, expect the sales push to intensify. And remember some age-old wisdom about dealing with salespeople: The faster they talk and the longer they sell, the more likely it is their product ain't worth spit.