by Andrew Walden
The Star-Bulletin is busy today accusing Governor Lingle of spreading "Medicare Myths". But the Obama campaign's 2008 effort to counter Clinton campaign myths that Obama was against single-payer socialized health care contradicts the Star-Bulletin and the White House today. Neither is keeping its myths--or its so-called myth-busting--straight. Here is the rundown:
SB editorial today:
Medicare cost $453 billion this year. Bills approved by three House committees would trim Medicare's anticipated growth over the next 10 years by $563 billion, the Washington Post reported. Most of the cuts would come from revision of reimbursements for doctors, discounts for prescription drugs and elimination of co-payments for preventive services — changes that would affect providers, not beneficiaries.
So with Hawaii already suffering an MD shortage caused in large part by low medicare reimbursements, Obama is going to cut them even more. And that won't affect beneficiaries, just providers??? It will when the MDs leave Hawaii. And this isn't a "cut"?
Joining Govs. Sonny Perdue of Georgia and Haley Barbour in Mississippi in a conference call with reporters arranged by the Republican Governors Association, Lingle defended the inflammatory behavior of people attending town-hall meetings with members of Congress.
"I think you see a heightened emotion and passion and, you say anger, because people are scared," Lingle said, according to the Politico account. "You're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts in spending on Medicare, and that's why you see members of AARP separated from their leadership on this issue. The heightened anger is out of fear for what it's going to mean for their lives and the lives of their families."
None of the bills before Congress calls for cuts in Medicare benefits, and President Obama called the notion that he is going to cut benefits another myth.
WRONG. And the Star-Bulletin contradicts itself even in the text of its own editorial.
Read the bill. HR 3200 Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc. (To go to page, type in 341 at upper left of pdf frame and hit "enter".)
Wall Street Journal July 29, 2009:
Medicare Advantage users. Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats want to cut back this program—care provided by private companies and subsidized by the government. Medicare Advantage grew by 15% last year; 10.5 million seniors, or 22% of all Medicare patients, are now enrolled.
The program is especially popular with those in badly served urban areas and with those who can’t afford the premiums for Medicare supplemental (MediGap) policies. A total of 54% of Hispanics on Medicare have chosen Medicare Advantage, as have 40% of African-Americans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Heritage Foundation July 29, 2009:
Over one in five Medicare patients are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans that President Obama wants to completely cut.
"Traditional Medicare routinely covers only 54 percent of the total spending for beneficiaries’ health care. Without access to Medicare Advantage plans, seniors would have two choices: either settle for the inferior level of coverage of traditional Medicare and go without the additional benefits or buy additional coverage through Medigap or some other supplemental coverage option. Meanwhile, the rollback of Medicare Advantage plans would impose a disproportionate burden on the low-income and minority seniors who enroll in them, as well as reduce seniors’ access to Medicare Advantage plans in rural areas."
The benefits that over 10.5 million seniors would probably lose as a result of President Obama’s $200 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts include:
- prescription drug coverage
- preventive-care services
- coordinated care for chronic conditions
- routine physical examinations
- additional hospitalization
- skilled nursing facility stays
- routine eye and hearing examinations
- glasses and hearing aids
Like a criminal on the stand, Star-Bulletin admits while denying:
"In addition, Obama would end Medicare Advantage, (SO LINGLE WAS RIGHT) which allows seniors to opt to receive Medicare benefits through private insurance plans. "Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides," said Obama at the town-hall meeting, calling it "a giveaway of $177 billion" to insurers."
But that's not a "cut" because...these benefits are a "giveaway to insurers". By that logic ANYTHING paid to insurance companies is a "giveaway to insurers".
And some Obamabots are still trying to claim that Obama doesn't want to nationalize health care. By Obama's own logic, all private elements of the US healthcare system are a "giveaway to insurers" and should be eliminated--nationalized just like Medicare Advantage. In January, 2008 the Obama campaign was once countering the "myth" that Obama opposed such "Single Payer" health care systems. At the Organizing for American website is the following little gem:
Fact Check: Obama Consistent in His Position on Single Payer Health Care
January 21, 2008
Rhetoric: "Today, he opposes single payer health care, and attacks Sen. Clinton for proposing a plan that covers everyone"
Reality: Obama Has Consistently Said That If We Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System, But Now We Need To Build On The System We Have
If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. The New Yorker wrote, "'If you're starting from scratch,' he [Obama] says, 'then a single-payer system'-a government-managed system like Canada's, which disconnects health insurance from employment-'would probably make sense. But we've got all these legacy systems in place, and managing the transition, as well as adjusting the culture to a different system, would be difficult to pull off. So we may need a system that's not so disruptive that people feel like suddenly what they've known for most of their lives is thrown by the wayside.'" [New Yorker, 5/7/07]
If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. "At a roundtable with a handful of invited guests at Lindy's Diner in Keene, Obama said if he were starting from scratch, he would probably propose a single payer health care system, but because of existing infrastructure, he created a proposal to improve the current system." [Concord Monitor, 8/14/07]
If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. Obama said, "Here's the bottom line. If I were designing a system from scratch I would probably set up a single-payer system...But we're not designing a system from scratch...And when we had a healthcare forum before I set up my healthcare plan here in Iowa there was a lot of resistance to a single-payer system. So what I believe is we should set up a series of choices....Over time it may be that we end up transitioning to such a system. For now, I just want to make sure every American is covered...I don't want to wait for that perfect system...The one thing you should ask about the candidates though is who's gonna have the capacity to actually deliver on the change?...I believe I've got a better capacity to break the gridlock and attract both Independents and Republicans to work together." [ http://iowa.barackobama.com/page/community/tag/Ames ]
See it for yourself: http://factcheck.barackobama.com/factcheck/2008/01/21/fact_check_obama_consistent_in.php or http://thepage.time.com/obama-release-on-single-payer-health-care/