CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Irresponsible, misleading" election ads are needlessly frightening West Virginia seniors, state Bureau of Senior Services staff members and seniors advocates say.
Federal health reform does not "gut" or even cut Medicare benefits as some ads claim, Marcia Meeks, director of the West Virginia State Health Insurance Program said this week. "Seniors actually get more benefits, starting in 2011."
"A lot of misinformation has been put out there during this election, and that's a shame," she said.
"There have been a lot of inaccurate, misleading things on the news and the Web," said Gaylene Miller, state AARP director.
"It's important for people to know that doctor visits, prescription drugs, outpatient visits, durable medical equipment, medical procedures, none of that will be cut back," Miller said. "It's also important for them to know about their new benefits."
For the past month, Bureau of Senior Services staff members, the AARP and other advocates have conducted informational sessions all over the state.
"A few days ago, seniors in Ceredo-Kenova told me TV ads were scaring them to death," Meeks said.
In addition to traditional benefits, Miller said, Medicare patients can now also get:
"There's a special place in hell for people who will scare senior citizens for partisan political purposes," Perry Bryant, director of West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, said Thursday. "It's very troubling, because this law makes Medicare more secure than it's ever been.
"It's frustrating to see irresponsible, misleading political ads try to get seniors to vote against their own interests," he said.
Ads by the John Raese senatorial campaign and the Republican National Senatorial Committee "make it look like people's benefits are being cut, when actually it's fraud and overpayments being cut," he said.