Issue: Medicare, Paul Ryan, and what noted Marxist philosopher Newt Gingrich called “right-wing social engineering”.
The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski wrote Monday about how Chris Collins refuses to comment on the Ryan Budget, which would fundamentally transform Medicare from the popular single-payer system seniors enjoy – and future seniors pay into throughout their work history – into an expensive voucher-based privatized program.
Of course he’s keeping mum. This issue did tremendous harm to his neighbor, Jane Corwin’s, campaign in 2011.
At the heart of the Republicans’ Medicare Privatization Syndrome Because is to replace a reasonably efficient government bureaucracy with a 97% approval rating from users, and replace it with the fragmented, fundamentally broken, redundant, private (oft for-profit) bureaucracy to take money from the patients through premiums, and nickel-and-dime the physicians on payouts, and futz with what is and isn’t covered. Ungrateful looters & moochers.
Mitt Romney has now selected the architect of that unfair and likely unconstitutional Medicare voucherization plan to be his running mate, and the fallout is spilling over into the hotly contested NY-27 race.
Incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul released this Monday morning:
“Try as he might, Chris Collins cannot run from the fact that he said a budget that ends Medicare as we know it and forces seniors to pay more for their healthcare to fund tax cuts for his millionaire friends ‘doesn’t go far enough,’” said campaign manager Frank Thomas. “Voters deserve to know how much further Chris Collins would go when he already supports decimating Medicare so he can give tax breaks to the rich. How can voters be expected to trust a candidate who will not be candid about his position on an issue that will crush seniors and the middle class.”
Collins told the Batavia Daily News that the Ryan Budget “doesn’t go far enough.” According to the Batavia Daily News, “Collins said he favors the Tea Party push to reduce the federal government. He praised Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, for ‘starting the conversation’ about reducing entitlement programs. But Collins said Ryan doesn’t go far enough. Ryan believes the budget could be balanced in 30 years, Collins said it needs to be done in 10 years. To delay it longer isn’t fair to young Americans who will have to foot the bill.” [Batavia Daily News, 5/9/12]
Collins said his stance on the Ryan Budget is similar to Jane Corwin’s. In March 2012, Collins has admitted that his position does not differ significantly from Jane Corwin’s position. Corwin supported the Ryan Budget, which “would essentially end Medicare.” [Buffalo News,3/25/12; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
But now Collins refuses to even answer questions on the Ryan budget. According to the Buffalo News,
Asked in a weekend telephone interview for his reaction to Ryan’s selection, Collins, the former Erie County executive, would not – even when asked again and again – endorse or even comment on Ryan’s budget, which would partly remake Medicare into a voucher program for future seniors while drastically cutting most domestic spending. [Buffalo News, 8/13/2012]
Republican Chris Collins released this, in response:
“What we are seeing is a desperate public sector millionaire employ every scare tactic under the sun to distract from the issue that matters most to voters – fixing this economy. Of course, with her record of massive tax increases and job killing regulations, it’s no wonder Kathy Hochul wants to talk about anything other than her failed plan to fix the economy.
With her whole-hearted embrace of ObamaCare, Kathy Hochul has jeopardized the future of Medicare for current seniors. More incredibly, she turned her backs on the seniors she promised to protect when she voted to cut their Medicare and Medicare Advantage by $700 billion.
The only way we will solve our budget problems is by adopting pro-growth, pro-small business policies that cut our debt, protect Medicare from going bankrupt, and let small businesses thrive. Kathy Hochul’s plan is to cling to ObamaCare, gut $700 billion from Medicare and watch our economy go down the drain. That’s not a leader – that’s a politician. Our region simply deserves better.”
A few quick observations: 1. Hochul’s release is more effective because it takes Collins’ own words and uses them against him. 2. Anyone else find it odd that Collins, of all people, is using “millionaire” as a pejorative against Kathy Hochul? I thought that was “class warfare” or something. 3. Collins’ statement is so much unsupported pablum about tax & spend liberals. 4. Collins is particularly vulnerable when it comes to being consistent and transparent. Whereas he merely spouts off talking points recycled from his last re-election campaign, Hochul provided hyperlinks to the things Collins has said in the past, and merely hoists him by the petard he so carefully constructed.
All I’m saying is that I’ll never support cuts to Medicare for current seniors or anyone close to retirement age, including Medicare Advantage, which my opponent has actually voted to cut.
But if you’re not “close to retirement age”, yet you’ve been paying into Medicare through your FICA for years and years, relying on the promise of hassle-free Medicare coverage when you retire, you can go pound salt.
Now – about that $700 billion claim. Collins has been using that for weeks – you should follow his aide Michael Kracker on Twitter, and watch him do battle with Hochul’s campaign manager, Frank Thomas. This claim comes up a lot.
The claim is that Obamacare rips $700 billion out of Medicare – that it’s a cut, that it steals from Medicare to fund Obamacare, etc. The claim is clumsy, palpably and provably false, and worse – assumes you’re stupid and will accept it as truth.
Does Obamacare cut $700 billion from Medicare? No. Obamacare saves $700 billion in waste while enhancing and improving seniors’ access to healthcare. This savings extends Medicare’s solvency by a full eight years.
A Redditor independently examined the claim and reached the same conclusion – that Chris Collins and other Republicans are criticizing Democrats for saving $700 billion from a socialistic, redistributive, government-run single-payer health care system.
CBO breaks out the $716 billion that Reibus refers to:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) = $517 billion
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) = $247 billion
- * Medicare Part D (offset) = ($48 billion)
= $716 billion
To make a little more sense of this, I also referred to CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation Enacted in March 2010 – start at page 24 which basically bulleted the reasons, as follows:
Changes to Payment Rates in Medicare: “Permanent reductions in the annual updates to Medicare’s payment rates for most services in the fee-for-service sector (other than physicians’ services) and the new mechanism for setting payment rates in the Medicare Advantage Program will reduce Medicare outlays by $507 billion during the 2012-2021 period” I found this very confusing, so I referred to Politifact which states: “The biggest portion of that savings…will come from reducing annual increases in payments to medical providers….The healthcare law does not cut $500 billion from Medicare. It just reduces future growth.” So in essence, it aims to curtail Medicare spending, not outlays to recipients. Ironic how the GOP is attacking Obama for an initiative to save money.
Disproportionate Share Hospitals: CBO states that “Both Medicare and Medicaid provide additional payments to hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of low income patients. PPACA…modified the formulas use to calculate such payments under Medicare. Projected to reduce direct spending by $57 billion over the 2012-2021 period.” The Urban Institute explains that ” the loss of federal disproportionate share hospital payments and potentially high uncompensated care costs borne by state and local governments on behalf of the uninsured will also motivate states to expand Medicaid under the ACA. On balance, states would experience net budget gains from implementing the Medicaid expansion.” So they are basically phasing out a federal program (disproportionate share hospitals) to expand another (Medicaid) and States would have a net budget gain!
Thus far we have accounted for $650 billion of the $716 billion and NONE of these “steal money from Medicare.” They simply attempt to save money, reprogram funding.
As for the remaining $65 billion, CBO says “many of those provisions will reduce spending, whereas others will increase it. The provisions that will reduce spending make a variety of changes to prior law, including establishing a mechanism to reduce the growth rate of Medicare spending if projected growth exceeds a given target, initiating a number of programs intended to modify the health care delivery system, and adjusting payments for prescription drugs in Medicaid….PPACA and the Reconciliation Act include numerous provisions intended to identify opportunities and create incentives for providers to make changes to the health care delivery system that will reduce costs and improve the quality of care.”
So, there you have it. Chris Collins and the Republicans are lying to you about Obamacare, about how it affects Medicare, and about myriad other things. Collins isn’t talking about the Ryan budget and how it effects Medicare because he saw what it did to Jane Corwin. Instead, he’s trying to pivot the debate (by the way, has he agreed to any debates? Will he be releasing any tax information at all?) to lies about how Obamacare is stealing money from Medicare. Are we going to re-litigate the Corwin vs. Hochul debacle of May 2011? Looks like it, and even with a re-worked district geography and demographic, it’s still got a lot of seniors who don’t appreciate being lied to, and don’t like that Collins supports the partial privatization, decimation, and increased user cost the right wing is proposing for Medicare.