The Obama campaign has released their third new TV ad in 24 hours, a 30-second spot invoking the AARP Voter Guide to discredit the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan.
This ad misleads by suggesting that AARP states as “fact” what is the Obama campaign’s view.
“Fact: Barack Obama will protect your guaranteed benefits and will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program,” the ad says showing excerpts from the AARP guide. “Fact: Mitt Romney would take away Medicare as guaranteed benefits and instead give future retirees ‘premium support’ or vouchers.”
An examination of the AARP guide reveals, however, that the nonpartisan organization does not make either of those claims.
The document quotes directly from each candidate’s website about his plan for Medicare reform. The section “AARP’s Position” makes no mention of Obama or Romney and is sufficiently broad that one could argue either candidate’s plan fits the bill.
Here’s that section in the voter guide:
“Medicare should be strengthened and improved so both current and future generations can count on having access to high-quality, affordable coverage. Medicare should continue to guarantee a specific set of benefits that are affordable and meet a person’s health care needs. Medicare should offer choices that ensure access to high-quality health care. Medicare should improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and cracking down on fraud, waste, and abuse.”
AARP senior vice president John Hishta said in a statement last month after Obama first invoked the group in a TV ad that the group “is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates.”
“For the last 26 years, we’ve been providing voters with balanced information, without all the political jargon and spin, so they can make their own decisions on Election Day,” Hishta said.
To be sure, AARP has opposed proposals to create a “premium support,” or voucher-style, system for Medicare, a stance that would seem to pit them against the Romney-Ryan ticket on a matter of policy.
In a letter to members of Congress in March, AARP CEO A. Barry Rand wrote of the House GOP budget, “By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage — a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.”
The group also opposes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a move it says would among other things re-open the prescription drug “doughnut hole” for seniors and lead to higher costs.