Posted by Diane Farsetta on April 01, 2009

The Halifax-Plympton Reporter received a letter to the editor urging "that people contact their congressman about the Medicare Advantage program," a "sort of privatized health plan paid for via the recipient's Medicare. Reportedly, there's some interest in doing away with the program." The actual, physical letter was in the name of a local resident, but it didn't mention any of the local Congressional delegation, which the newspaper's editor, Matthew Nadler, found strange. So, he called the man who had supposedly written and mailed the letter. "He had no idea what I was talking about," Nadler reports. Then, "I got a phone call Monday from a young man who said he was calling on behalf of the letter's non-writer. I told him what happened, and I think I had some pointed words about what was a pretty sleazy use of an elderly person. I asked the caller who he was and who he worked for. Which, not surprisingly, I suppose, he declined to tell me." However, Nadler could see his phone number, and traced it back to the Dewey Square Group, a high-powered, Democratic-associated lobbying firm. Nadler notes that "their Web site doesn't list their clients, but it doesn't take a genius, or a newspaper editor, to figure out they've been hired by someone with an interest in keeping Medicare Advantage in business." The firm's site "promises 'grassroots' communication," but, he concludes, "it looks more like Astroturf from here."