Opinion - Ashby's independent supporters prey on senior voter vulnerabilities with inaccurate Medicare claims

By D.A. Gougherty | 

Aging is a dichotomy. With age, we grow wiser but also become more vulnerable. 

This vulnerability of old folks is not lost on criminals of all types who zero in on the fragility and sometimes slipping mental abilities. And as we have and continue to see, this is a vulnerability political operatives also prey upon with older voters. 

In the competitive race for California State Senate District 8, several independent mailers have been distributed on candidate Angelique Ashby's behalf. The message on several of these mailers targets senior citizens.

These mailers have caught my attention as I am months away from enrolling in Medicare. I am highly attuned to this topic.  

Not only is my mailbox filling almost daily with Medicare insurance plans, but during this election season, independent group mailers supporting Ashby are rolling in. Funded by industry groups like big pharma, they are preying on fear. 

Interestingly - not that it matters - but almost every mailer that does not involve reproductive rights is addressed to all three voters at our address. As the only person under the roof approaching the golden age of 65, the Medicare scare mailer has a singular recipient - me (see image below).   

Specifically, the mailers claim Jones wants to deprive senior citizen Medicare recipients of their benefits. Without going into a lengthy policy discussion on Jones' stance on healthcare, the statements are, at a minimum, a distortion and, worse, outright lies.  

Like phone scammers and other criminals who target older citizens, Ashby's supporters are preying on the vulnerabilities and fear that can overwhelm some people in this age group. As con men operate, so do political operatives who prey on the fear of losing a benefit that could mean the difference between life and death.

When contacted, Jones affirmed the independent mailer claims were untrue and that no State Senator can strip Medicare benefits. He also affirmed his support of Medicare and noted his candidacy is endorsed by healthcare workers including the California Nurses Assocation,  a long-time advocate for expanded healthcare access. 

"It is outrageous that Angelique Ashby's supporters are preying on vulnerable seniors and scaring them with this lie," Jones said. "I support Medicare and have always supported Medicare. I have family members on Medicare." 

Although Ashby is not responsible for the contents of the ads, groups like big pharma see her as favorable to their industry and Jones as an impediment. Targeting vulnerable older people is shameful, but it's how our political system works and if it means preying on one group to fulfill their wants, so be it.  

While many of us seniors may be viewed as easy prey, there is that dichotomy of wisdom. Life experience and wisdom tell us big pharma is deploying scare tactics - nothing more, nothing less. 

These scare tactics should be disregarded like the annoying brother-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner. 

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