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Who's Playing ‘Dirty Politics' with TN's Interstate Compact Bill?

April 20, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As the state House Health Committee prepares to vote today on the interstate compact bill that challenges federal health-care reform, Tennesses senior citizens are receiving automated telephone calls misrepresenting AARP's position on the bill.

AARP Tennessee is calling the robo-calls "dirty politics at its worst."

The robo-calls indicate that AARP has new information about the bill, HB 369, and urges seniors to ask their representatives to support it.

Shelley Courington, AARP Tennessee advocacy director, says her group doesn't know who's making the calls - but it isn't AARP. Covington has met with lawmakers to express her concern. She says the robo-calls misrepresent AARP's position and are preying on those concerned about their health.

"We do not support the Health Care Compact, and for someone to be sending out robo-calls saying that we do is a very serious concern."

The group has asked the state attorney general and the Tennessee Regulatory Authority to look into the calls.

The health-care proposal would provide a waiver for each participating state to create its own health-care system. The compact would have to be approved by Congress. The state Senate version, SB 326, is awaiting a full floor vote.

Barry Evan, a volunteer for AARP, says he is shocked by what is happening.

"How anyone could take advantage of older Tennesseans on Medicare is kind of beyond me. Many of the people who've gotten these robo-calls don't know anything about these issues."

AARP says it has no idea how many people have been fraudulently contacted. Tennessee residents can report their own experiences or concerns by calling the organization at 1-866-295-7274, extension 75119.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - TN