Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yes, Nevada GOP, You Still Want to Kill Medicare If You Support Paul Ryan's Budget.

So The Beltway's favorite gossip rag, Politico, has a breathless piece this morning about the new G-O-TEA plan to sell Paul Ryan's "Doom of Austerity" plan to America: Just don't talk about what's actually in it!

Last year, they were blindsided by the backlash to the Wisconsin Republican’s plan. It was immediately framed by Democrats as ending Medicare, crushing Medicaid while keeping taxes low for the rich. Ryan, who was being pitched as a presidential prospect for the party, receded as his plan came under attack from all sides.
The 2012 plan is — simply put — to not talk about the plan too much. [...]

GOP leaders are suggesting members use props. In a presentation, the NRCC said members should try to “inoculate” themselves in a campaign season by using “credible third-party validators (mom or seniors),” according to a party document.

Above all, the Ryan budget rollout was designed to conform to a new political reality for Republicans: Changing entitlements is difficult, not popular but necessary. And even the true believers — like Ryan himself — need to build coalitions when they pitch big ideas.

To ensure the plan landed well nationally, Ryan personally reached out to presidential candidates to brief them on it. Romney endorsed the plan this week.

And DC Republicans are pointing to Mark Amodei's win in NV-02 last year as living proof of their plan working (politically, that is).

Amodei gave up talking about the particulars of the Ryan budget. He started saying the status quo was unsustainable. He tagged Marshall as supporting Obama’s health care bill, which he said cut from Medicare. When talking about the Republican plan, he said it would “save and protect” the senior health care program.

Amodei sent out direct mail that branded him as the “the one candidate working to protect Medicare.” They enlisted his mother to star in an advertisement vouching he would protect the program.

The contrast worked. [...]

“Here’s what I’m real comfortable telling people,” Amodei said in an interview in Washington on Wednesday. “I’ll tell you the truth about your program, and I’ll fight to save it, but in order to tell you the truth and to fight to save it, you can’t continue to do nothing. Can you fix it all in a year? Absolutely not. Can you fix it in five years? No you can’t. But you better start now.”

Here's what Politico is missing. First off, Barack Obama isn't behaving like Kate Marshall. Secondly, it doesn't look like Shelley Berkley, John Oceguera, or Steven Horsford plans to behave like Kate Marshall. Thirdly, Paul Ryan's plan would still destroy Medicare if enacted. And finally, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have wholly embraced Paul Ryan and his plan to destroy Medicare. That's why House Republicans are spinning this like crazy now.

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However, they can't just spin away the facts. The fact of the matter is that Paul Ryan's new budget slashes and privatizes Medicare and Medicaid to death just as much as Paul Ryan's old budget.

Beginning 2023, the guaranteed Medicare benefit would be transformed into a government-financed “premium support” system. Seniors currently under the age of 55 could use their government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But the budget does not take sufficient precautions to prevent insurers from cherry-picking the the healthiest beneficiaries from traditional Medicare and leaving sicker applicants to the government. As a result, traditional Medicare costs could skyrocket, forcing even more seniors out of the government program. The budget also adopts a per capita cost cap of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent, without specifying how it would enforce it. This makes it likely that the cap would limit the government contribution provided to beneficiaries and since the proposed growth rate is much slower than the projected growth in health care costs, CBO estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. Finally, the budget would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67. Some seniors who would no longer be eligible for Medicare would pick up employer coverage—but they would pay more in premiums and cost sharing. And since the budget would scale back or eliminate other coverage options, hundreds of thousands of seniors would become uninsured.

The budget would eliminate the exiting matching-grant financing structure of Medicaid and would instead give each state a pre-determined block grant that does not keep up with actual health care spending. This would shift some of the burden of Medicaid’s growing costs to the states, forcing them to — in the words of the CBO — make cutbacks that “involve reduced eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP, coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost sharing by beneficiaries—all of which would reduce access to care.” The block grants would reduce federal Medicaid spending by $810 billion over 10 years, decreasing federal Medicaid spending by more than 35 percent over the decade. As a result, states could reduce enrollment by more than 14 million people, or almost 20 percent—even if they are were able to slow the growth in health care costs substantially.

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This explains why Joe Heck has often danced around his own vote for "RyanCare". Remember when he lied about Medicare, and President Obama's position on Medicare, last September in Summerlin as he tried to excuse his vote for Paul Ryan's budget?

Joe Heck has to do this. On one hand, he has to look "moderate" in order to win reelection in NV-03. But on the other hand, he's still expected to mostly be a loyal follower of Paul Ryan and "Tea Party, Inc." So what's someone like Heck to do? Oh, just lie about Medicare and lie about Democrats' position on Medicare!

When House Republicans unveil their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support.

Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it.

“We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.” [...]

“They [seniors] don’t want Medicare itself to be diminished in some way,” Schakowsky said, “or to become too expected and therefore ruined.”

So no matter how hard both the national G-O-TEA and Nevada's G-O-TEA representatives try to spin Paul Ryan's new budget proposal as a "bold, courageous, bipartisan plan to save Medicare", it's really just another attempt to pass the same old plan to destroy Medicare and take away needed health care from many Nevadans.

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