So last Thursday (11/19) readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were treated to a quarter-page ad that proclaimed in large letters “thank You Senator Blunt for protecting access to patient care.” The ad was paid for by the Federation of American Hospitals, a for-profit hospital lobbying group.
As near as I can make out Blunt’s service to the group consisted of advocacy against cutting down the federal subsidy that compensates for Medicare “bad debt.” This is the debt that occurs when Medicare beneficiaries cannot manage co-pays or other Republican-sponsored (and Blunt endorsed) outlays designed to make sure that our elderly have “got skin in the game.”
Laudable, right? But bear in mind that this is the same Senator Blunt who just a few years ago proclaimed that, “We’ve had Medicare since 1965, and Medicare has never done anything to make people more healthy.” It’s also the same Roy Blunt who has voted against just about any expansion of healthcare that hasn’t involved a subsidy to healthcare industry beneficiaries – folks who, incidentally, have done quite a lot of good for ol’ Roy in their turn. Healthcare industries and Big Pharma account for quite a sizable chunk of Blunt’s campaign dosh.
Not too different from Karl Rove’s PAC ads that tried to paint the Senator as a defender of veterans – the same Roy Blunt who voted over and over again against the best interests of veterans (see here and here for examples).
So what’s going on? Could it have anything to do with the election next year which Roy is going into with a Senate approval ranking of 84 from the top? That’s 16 from the lowest posible ranking. Maybe a few of Roy’s constituents have finally caught on about who it is Roy seeks to serve.
Or it might possibly reflect the fact that Roy has some real competition this time around in the person of a actual veteran, Jason Kander? Somebody who just might not only try to walk the caring walk only during the few months before a possibly difficult election, but every day, as a matter of principle.