To help sell the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which -- against all historical precedent -- has become less popular since it was passed two years ago, John Kerry's crack PR staff has put together one of those sappy "you'll love it when it really begins" PPACA puff pieces for Huffington Post.
Over on Massachusetts Health Stats, I explained all Kerry's deceptions about RomneyCare. But he (or his PR hack) threw in a few misleading statements about Medicare as well. Kerry says:
- "Nearly 71,000 seniors in the Bay State received help with their prescription drug costs because we closed Medicare's unfair prescription drug donut hole." There's only three problems with that statement that I can think of off the top of my head:
- In case you're a senior and wonder where your "help" from Kerry went, it's important to remember that 71,000 seniors is only 8% of the people in Massachusetts on Medicare. The other 92% aren't affected by the "donut hole." No donut hole, no help. (But don't complain about that!)
- Second, PPACA didn't close the donut hole; it just reduced the cost of brandname drugs for the relatively few that fall into the hole. (I'm not defending the design of Medicare Part D, which put the deductible in the middle rather than at the beginning like most insurance. I'm just objecting to politicians like Kerry misleading senior citizens.)
- Third, the "help" doesn't come from PPACA but from the drug manufacturers.
- And wait -- I thought of a fourth problem: Kerry was against the Part D prescription drug plan back in 2003 when it was proposed by George Bush (but we're used to Kerry being against something before he's for it and vice versa).
- "Because of the law's emphasis on prevention, over 780,000 Medicare beneficiaries in our state received free preventive services -- such as mammograms and colonoscopies -- or a free annual wellness visit with their doctor." I found that hard to believe because
- Nationwide only about 6% of seniors took advantage of annual wellness visits (which are not physicals) so it was hard to believe that more than 60% of us Massachusetts seniors took the GoLightly and ran over to the doctors for tests like colonoscopies.
- We didn't. The high percentage counts all of us that got our flu shot last year. (Nationwide, over 70% of Medicare beneficiaries got flu shots in 2009; there is no data yet available for 2011 but if the percentage stayed the same, the entire number claimed by Kerry would be for flu shots.) I'm not suggesting you not get your free services but like I said I'm just objecting to politicians like Kerry misleading senior citizens (of which he's now one too, of course).
On a bigger scale the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has found that a lot more work needs to be done to get seniors to take the meaningful preventitive screenings (but get your flu shots).