McCaskill's whopper on Medicare
The Kansas City Star
Democrats, for a change, have been put on the defensive when it comes to Medicare, thanks to their fateful decision to yank $716 billion from Medicare to help pay for Obamacare. Naturally, Mitt Romney has been playing this up, especially in Florida.
But Sen. Claire McCaskill, meeting Tuesday with The Star’s Editorial Board, says Romney’s argument is a “whopper.” Echoing President Obama’s line in last week’s debate, she says the Medicare spending reductions simply shaved some of the “fat profits” from insurance providers and cut back hospital payments, since they will be receiving more patients under Obamacare anyway.
But it’s McCaskill who’s telling the whopper here. As former Office of Management and Budget official James Capretta writes, “… these are cuts of the worst kind. They are arbitrary and across the board. They reduce reimbursement rates for all who provide services to Medicare patients, regardless of how well or badly they treat their patients.”
The Heritage Foundation trolled a July CBO report and found that the list of spending reductions includes $260 billion less for hospital services, $39 billion less for skilled nursing services, $17 billion less for hospice services, $66 billion less for home health services and $156 billion less for Medicare Advantage. The Medicare Advantage cuts could be much more when you take “interactions with other provisions” into account, according to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Not sure what “interactions with other provisions” might be, but the list shows that the $716 billion involves more than a few whacks at supposed bad actors like insurance companies.
McCaskill was later asked whether she could live with the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare reform, which would give future recipients “premium support” to buy approved private policies, or allow them to stay in traditional Medicare.
To her credit, she didn’t reject the idea out of hand. McCaskill said she was uncertain as to how the plan would cut costs in Medicare, and had “serious doubts about the efficacy.”
If the GOP keeps the House, takes the Senate and the presidency, McCaskill could be a key player in working out the details of this proposal. Since her re-election is highly likely given the poor performance of her opponent, Rep. Todd Akin, it’s perhaps encouraging that she at least seems willing to consider the premium support concept — which, after all, has a Democratic pedigree.