As if all the money the health insurance industry spends on straight-up lobbying and campaign contributions to members of Congress isn’t enough, now comes disturbing evidence that they’re flat-out lying to the American people.
According to this story in the Massachusetts-based Eagle-Tribune the health insurance industry lobbying group, America’s Health
Insurance Plans, is trying to get local newspapers to run fake
letters from senior citizens that contain glowing praise for the insurance industry’s Medicare Advantage plans.
The letters were, in fact, composed and sent by the Boston office of a
national political consulting firm [Dewey Square] attempting to create the appearance
of a "grass-roots" movement for Medicare Advantage. …America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, hired Dewey Square to defend the Medicare Advantage program.
But none of the supposed authors of letters received by the Eagle-Tribune kenw anything about them.
"I did not write a letter to the editor. It’s not from me," said Gloria Gosselin, 75, of Lawrence.
…One of the letters came from William Morin of New Bedford and was addressed to the "New Bedford Eagle-Tribune." No such newspaper exists. The street address on the letter was that of The Eagle-Tribune’s North Andover office. "I wonder who did that. New Bedford Eagle-Tribune — I’ve never heard of it," said Morin, who is 88 years old.
A letter supposedly from Ana Abascal of Lawrence said she "wanted to
express how important my Medicare Advantage health plan is to me and
other fixed-income seniors in my community." But when contacted by The Eagle-Tribune, Abascal was
shocked and concerned to learn someone was using her name on a letter
to the editor. She did not know what the Medicare Advantage plan was.
When reporters called AHIP on the deception, they tried to blame seniors’ faulty memories for the deception:
Under the banner of "The Coalition for Medicare Choices"
(www.medicarechoices.org), Dewey Square operatives are bringing seniors
to "Medicare Advantage Community Meetings," featuring "free food" and
"door prizes," with congressmen and senators, and offering them sample
letters to Congress or local newspapers.
Two spokeswomen for the Dewey Square Group insist the
campaign is legitimate, even if the seniors have no recollection of
sending or signing such letters.
Perhaps, suggested Dewey Square’s Mary Anne Marsh, the
time that elapsed between the meetings when the seniors saw the letters
and the letters’ arrival at the newspaper may have clouded some
The health insurance industry, already facing serious image problems, has sunk to a new level of dishonesty. And proponents of an individual health insurance mandate would require Americans to trust these companies with their health. Scary.