CARSON CITY – A television ad campaign sponsored by the pro-Democrat Patriot Majority attacking GOP Sen. Dean Heller on his Medicare votes has expanded to Las Vegas and is again being called false by his campaign.
The ads say Heller voted to “end Medicare” twice, once while serving in the House from the 2nd Congressional District and once after being appointed to the Senate by Gov. Brian Sandoval in April 2011.
Heller voted in April 2011 in support of a plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that would have kept Medicare in place for people 55 or older but changed it for others by privatizing it and relying on government subsidies. It was part of an overall deficit reduction plan that passed the House on a mostly party-line vote.
He voted in the Senate in May 2011 to proceed with the Ryan bill. The vote failed on a 57-40 mostly party-line vote.
The ads have been running in Northern Nevada and have now expanded to the Las Vegas area. The Northern Nevada ad features Washoe Valley residents Jimmie and Dexter Sale, who would not have been affected by the Ryan Medicare plan because of their age.
The new ad says Heller voted twice to “end Medicare as we know it” and that the legislation would have “raised seniors’ health costs nearly $6,000 a year.”
Heller, who is running for his first full-term in the Senate, is being challenged by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. The race is considered critical to both parties’ efforts to control the Senate in the 2012 general election.
“Shelley Berkley and Harry Reid just keep repeating the same ‘Lie of the Year,’ hoping they can keep misleading seniors all the way through November,” said Chandler Smith, spokeswoman for the Heller for Senate campaign. “Shelley Berkley has always done whatever it takes to score political points, so her ‘Mediscare’ tactics really come as no surprise.”
The Berkley campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ads, which are being paid for by the third-party political action committee.
The Heller campaign said Democrat attacks in the Medicare ad were deemed PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2011. The analysis by the group said Democrats ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not have affected people currently in Medicare or those 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.
Democrats also used harsh terms such as “end” and “kill” when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system, PolitiFact said. And they used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan, the analysis said.
The Heller campaign said Berkley voted for the Affordable Care Act “that cut $500 billion out of the Medicare program.”
Heller has voted to preserve the Medicare program, the campaign said, by voting against both the Affordable Care Act and the Budget Control Act, which provides for possible Medicare cuts of up to $11 billion a year (about $140 billion over ten years) if deficit reduction targets are not reached.
Heller has consistently voted to ensure physicians are properly reimbursed so they will continue participating in the Medicare program and provide necessary services for seniors, the campaign said.