The latest campaign advertisement from the campaign of Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is coming under fire for mischaracterizing statements made by Rahall’s opponent, state Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell.
Factcheck.org says the ad “twists” Jenkins’ words, taking a quotation given to the Daily Mail completely out of context. The Post’s “Fact Checker” blog gives Rahall Four Pinocchios, saying the Rahall ad “should be ashamed of this ad.”
(Truth be told, the Post might deserve one Pinocchio for referring to our paper as the “Charlestown Daily Mirror.” Not sure where that came from…)
The issue with the ad comes from the assertion that a large conservative entity backing Jenkins wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program (read more about the idea at the bottom of this article) and therefore Jenkins is “comfortable” taking money from seniors’ pockets.
Americans For Prosperity– a massive conservative entity funded by wealthy brothers David and Charles Koch– is supporting the Jenkins campaign and did at least at one point, support such a concept. The justification used to show Jenkins’ “support” is the part of the ad that’s raising eyebrows.
Saying Jenkins is “comfortable” with raising seniors’ out-of-pocket costs, the ad splashes a large quotation Jenkins gave to the Daily Mail in 2013. The part shown on screen reads:
“With a little financial skin in the game, they will think about… whether or not ‘I really need to go to the doctor’.”
The full quotation the article, by the DM’s Zack Harold, is pretty close to what’s printed:
“With a little financial skin in the game, they will think about that co-pay when deciding whether or not ‘I really need to go to the doctor’.”
That co-pay part gets to the crux of the issue: Jenkins was talking to the Daily Mail about Medicaid not Medicare. He was talking about any person using Medicaid–not just seniors, as the plan is created for people with little means.
And Jenkins wasn’t talking about taking $6,000 from anyone, as is implied by the dollar amount inflating on the screen in the ad. (The ad cites a 2011 Congressional Budget Office report relying on details of the a plan that was changed substantially.)
Jenkins was talking about $8 and $4 dollar co-pays health care providers are allowed to charge certain Medicaid recipients in certain situations.
The Rahall campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Mail, but told the Post and Factcheck.org they stood by the ad. The Post says it received a campaign statement that reads:
“The point of the ad is that Evan Jenkins believes in raising seniors’ out-of-pocket costs, just like his wealthy backers,” a campaign statement said. “They share that belief whether it’s Medicare or seniors’ copays – the consequences are the same: seniors pay more.”
This is not the first time the Rahall camp has faced questions around a potentially misleading ad. Factcheck.org called an assertion in a different Rahall ad that Jenkins promised to repeal black lung benefits “bogus.”
Jenkins disowned his previous affiliation with the Democratic party to challenge for Rahall’s seat as a Republican.
While the district supported Mitt Romney overwhelmingly in the 2012 presidential election and national GOP believes the seat is a top pick-up prospect, the Rahall camp says internal polls have the congressman leading substantially.
The general election is Nov. 4.
Medicare as a voucher program:
The concept of changing the popular government-funded health care program for seniors into a system where they could use vouchers (essentially checks sent by the government) to purchase care is controversial. Democrats consistently used the concept against then-presidential contender Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., a leading architect of a GOP plan that initially suggested such a change.