EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional comments from Don Disney.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Kentucky’s U.S. Senate candidates resorted to scaring seniors about Medicare cuts this week during a run of new, negative TV ads that included false claims.
Sen. Mitch McConnell cautions in one campaign spot that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes supports slashing Medicare funding, while a Grimes ad accuses McConnell of wanting to raise costs for seniors. The respective claims are false and misleading, according to a WAVE 3 News Reality Check.
The ads are part of a wave of new spending in the weeks before the annual Fancy Farm Picnic and come fewer than four months away from Election Day.
“Grimes supports Obamacare, which cuts $700 million from seniors’ Medicare,” warns the McConnell ad, which begins airing Thursday. “That’s how Obama and Grimes will pay for Obamacare.”
Reality Check gave this a rating of “misleading.” The Affordable Care Act doesn’t cut payments to seniors, but it does allow reductions in funding to hospitals and private insurers if they don’t meet certain goals.
The idea was good enough that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, included the same savings in legislation that he sponsored, according to multiple news reports and an interview Ryan did with ABC News.
A suggestion in the same ad that Grimes would pay for the Affordable Care Act “on the backs of Kentucky seniors” is false, Reality Check found. Grimes didn’t have a vote on the health care legislation, and no one will ever know whether she would’ve proposed changes in how to pay for the new law.
Meanwhile, a Grimes ad that began airing Tuesday also includes a claim given the “false” rating by Reality Check.
In the spot, Grimes aims to comfort a retired coal miner in the ad after he pretends to ask McConnell a question into the camera and receives no response.
“I want to know how you could’ve voted to raise my Medicare costs to $6,000,” Don Disney asks. “How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?”
The ad references a 2011 vote in Congress on a Republican-sponsored plan to privatize Medicare over time.
Conservative and liberal groups have analyzed the legislation and all came up with wildly different projections on how much it would raise Medicare costs. The Democratic-leaning group sourced in the Grimes ad provided some of the most dire predictions.
Further, the legislation clearly stated that it would have no impact on people nearing or at retirement age, a group that includes Don Disney. The plan ultimately died.
Disney, when reached by phone, said that he did indeed work in an Eastern Kentucky coal mine for 34 years and is a registered Democrat.
Disney said his address is actually listed as Cumberland, Ky., not Cloverlick, as the Grimes ad references. Reality Check had been unable to find a town named Cloverlick, Ky.
Disney said he and other residents refer to the rural area where he lives as “Cloverlick.”