USA Today has an interesting story on how despite endorsements from the AARP, the Democrats’ vote for the Affordable Care Act can jeopardize their electoral chances with seniors:
Until this spring, lifelong Democrat Carolyn Land never had a second thought about voting for Rep. Allen Boyd, a Democrat who has represented her area since 1997.
But the day after Boyd cast his vote on March 21 for the new health care overhaul law, Land, 65, got out of her La-Z-Boy, switched her registration to Republican and began stumping for Boyd’s Republican challenger, Steve Southerland. The law “cut $500 billion from Medicare,” she complained. “Right now, I can see a doctor when I need to, but I’m afraid I won’t if that happens. I foresee a long wait.”
As emotions run high over the law, anger and fear about its impact on Medicare — whether founded or not — could be a deciding factor in some particularly close congressional races, especially in areas where there are large numbers of seniors, say political analysts such as Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It could make a difference in any one of these races,” he said.
The article goes on to explain that Republicans are taking advantage of seniors’ anxiety about the act by “pummeling Democrats with the claim that the new law would gut the program by cutting $500 billion.” Democrats are certainly fighting back by pointing out that the cuts would protect guaranteed Medicare benefits and are designed to slow the growth of the program and shore it up for future generations, but as we know, it’s always easier to distort something than to defend it.
The one silver lining that Democrats have in seniors’ resistance to changing their government-sponsored health insurance is that it suggests that as Americans experience the benefits of the new health law, they will grow more supportive of it. By the next election cycle, younger Americans will be as opposed to tweaking the benefits of the Affordable Care Act as today’s seniors are to changing Medicare.