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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Twisted Loyalties

Seems as though Senators Wicker and Cochran (along with 8 other lockstep Republicans) have found themselves on the wrong side of a Medicare issue, siding (as per usual) with the president and the insurance industry over patients and doctors. Shocking, I know.

The American Medical Association is taking action, running ads, calling out these senators by name. From CQ Politics, a little background:
The American Medical Association, the influential trade association for doctors, began running television ads Tuesday targeting 10 Republican senators who voted last week against a bill that would reverse a scheduled cut in Medicare’s physician payments.

The AMA’s advertisements, which call out the 10 senators by name, are part of a campaign by Democrats, seniors and doctors’ groups to pressure Republicans to change their votes on the bill (HR 6331), which failed in the Senate last week by a single vote.

Democratic Senate candidates in the states where the AMA is running ads are trying to make an issue out of the vote in their campaigns, and Republicans find themselves on the defensive, trying to explain their votes to angry doctors and worried seniors.

The bill would halt a scheduled 10.6 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians, giving doctors a small increase instead. It was opposed by some Republicans — and President Bush — because the bill would pay for the increase by trimming costs in the Medicare Advantage program, in which private insurers provide benefits for seniors in place of the government...

...In the AMA ads, a narrator charges: “A group of U.S. senators voted to protect the powerful insurance companies at the expense of Medicare patients’ access to doctors.”

The ads name GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; John E. Sununu of New Hampshire; John Barrasso and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming; Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran of Mississippi; and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Alexander, Cornyn, Sununu, Barrasso, Enzi, Cochran and Wicker all face elections this year. Sununu and Wicker are seen by Democrats as particularly vulnerable.

An AMA spokeswoman would not say what the association is paying to run the ads, but called the buy “significant.”

Many of the AMA’s targets are facing heat from their election opponents, as well. In Texas, the Texas Medical Association revoked its endorsement of Cornyn’s re-election because of his vote on the bill. His opponent, state Rep. Rick Noriega, is promising “to make health care accessible and affordable every day as the next U.S. Senator from Texas,” said his spokeswoman, Holly Shulman.

In Mississippi, Wicker’s opponent, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, “is talking about [the Medicare vote] at all of his stops and all his events,” said his spokesman, Adam Bozzi.

“We have heard tremendous feedback from both doctors and regular people – families and seniors – but especially doctors, who are just outraged at this vote,” Bozzi said.
Can't find either the Wicker or Cochran specific ads online yet (but if it comes across the airwaves this evening, I'll TiVo and upload it for y'all), but here is the stock ad geared toward John Sununu:

This particular version of the ad closes with an appeal for viewers to contact Sununu and tell him to "make patients a priority" and support HR 6331. Great idea, and I'd highly encourage all y'all in the Magnolia state to call our Senators (for the time being anyway) and urge them to do the same.

Thad Cochran:
(202) 224-5054
Web Contact Form

Roger Wicker:
(202) 224-6253
Web Contact Form

Light 'em up, and tell them that the time to be beholden to the insurance companies is passed, and it's about the American people now.

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