Nan Hayworth‘s office sent out a press release on Thursday that included a picture of the Congresswoman receiving an award beneath a sign saying, “Senior Citizens Thank You For Protecting Medicare and Social Security.” It appeared to be a perfect photo opportunity for Hayworth, being honored by a group known as the “60 Plus Association” for legislating in their best interests.
But there are two big problems with this picture. First, Nan Hayworth just voted to kill Medicare, if you’re one of the few that has forgotten. And second, the 60 Plus Association is not a senior citizen’s group at all, it’s just a front organization for the pharmaceutical industry. This is a crass attempt by Hayworth to once again deceive her constituents, particularly the elderly.
Back in 2003, the AARP Bulletin recognized 60 Plus as a front group for Big Pharma. The publication claimed that the organization wasn’t even receiving membership dues from seniors at the time and that “virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source—the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.”
The Bulletin revealed that 60 Plus was well funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Citizens for Better Medicare, and four pharmaceutical companies, Hanwha International, Merck, Pfizer, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Currently, as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization may legally accept corporate donations, but is not required to disclose its funding sources, which it doesn’t.
60 Plus has also been a favorite cause in among Beltway conservatives. Lobbyist, Republican operative, and convicted felon Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe he represented to contribute to 60 Plus. Abramoff told the tribe that a donation would help it get support among GOP leadership for its legislative causes.
Since its inception, the 60 Plus Association has had the back of Big Pharma, helping the industry with mass mailings, press releases, and lobbying efforts. It was one of three industry-backed associations that backed the infamous “astroturf” issue ads of Citizens for Better Medicare (another drug industry front group) during the 2000 elections.
Also notable was 60 Plus’s support of lawsuit by PhRMA against the state of Maine, in their issuance of a “friend of the court” brief. PhRMA sued to stop the State from implementing Maine Rx, a law that reduces prices for Medicare drugs by enabling the state to offer discounted prescription drugs to the working poor and elderly through bulk purchases from manufacturers. The trial ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which eventually allowed Maine to implement the trail-blazing program.
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