Two local papers in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s district yesterday carried full-page ads calling on voters to contact their Congressman and urge him to “stop the cuts” on Medicare and “stand up for the quality skilled nursing care California’s seniors need.”
These ads were placed by the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. The AHCA announced this ad campaign in a press release dated August 22:
In response to the $2.7 billion cuts to Medicare that were passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP Act), the long term care provider community today initiated an aggressive TV and print campaign in Congressional districts across the country. The campaign warns that proposed cuts will jeopardize ongoing quality improvements in America’s nursing homes, threaten thousands of local health care jobs, and irrationally return Medicare funding levels to those seen almost a decade ago.
In addition to the newspaper ads, AHCA/AQNHC plans to air TV commercials in their targeted districts. Here’s the text of the commercials:
Why?… would politicians in Washington vote to cut Medicare for our most vulnerable seniors?… cutting $2.7 billion in vital funds for skilled nursing care. It’s wrong. Slashing billions will jeopardize quality, threaten thousands of health care jobs, and return Medicare funding to levels of almost a decade ago. Call Congressman [Name], tell him to stop the cuts, and to stand up for the quality skilled nursing care [State]’s seniors need. Time is running out.
So you might wonder exactly who these two groups are. Well, here’s how they describe themselves. According to the AHCA website, the AHCA “represents nearly 11,000 non-profit and proprietary facilities” and the AQNHC is a “coalition of 16 national skilled nursing providers.” In other words, this campaign has ostensibly been launched by two organizations that represent the owners of nursing homes.
But here’s where the story goes sideways. When the CHAMP Act came to a vote, 220 Democrats and five Republicans voted in favor of it. So these two supposed industry groups have announced that they will be targeting the following members of Congress in their districts:
Arizona: Rep. Harry Mitchell; California: Rep. Jerry McNerney; Connecticut: Reps. Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy; Florida: Reps. Tim Mahoney, Ron Klein; Georgia: Reps. Jim Marshall, John Barrow; Indiana: Reps. Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill; Kansas: Rep. Nancy Boyda; Minnesota: Rep. Tim Walz; New Hampshire: Reps. Paul Hodes, Carol Shea-Porter; New York: Reps. John Hall, Kirsten Gillebrand, Mike Arcuri; Ohio: Rep. Zack Space; Pennsylvania: Reps. Jason Altmire, Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy; Wisconsin: Rep. Steven Kagen.
Now, when I looked at the list of Congressional members this group was targeting, I couldn’t help but notice that they were all Democrats and mostly freshmen. In fact, only the two Congressmen from Georgia, Jim Marshall and John Barrow, are incumbents. But due to a redistricting maneuver in 2005 by the Georgia state legislature, they both barely won their races in 2006. In fact, Barrow won by a mere 864 votes, Marshall by 1,752.