As health-care reform lurches forward in Washington, proposed legislation would chop nearly half a trillion dollars from Medicare. This is yet another example of greedy, cold-hearted, racist Republicans slicing Medicare so they can laugh as Granny shivers on a subway grate and nibbles her cat food with a broken fork.
Just as candidate Barack Obama warned last October, Republican rule means Medicare cuts. “You’ll pay more for your drugs,” Obama prophesied. “You’ll get lower-quality care. I don’t think that’s right. In fact, it ain’t right.”
But wait . . .
These massive Medicare cuts bear no Republican fingerprints. They are — gasp! — handcrafted by Democrats, the heretofore compassionate, caring party that handed Granny her knitting needles and hot cocoa as she rocked gently before a crackling, federally subsidized fire.
Democrats now are so desperate to infiltrate Uncle Sam deeper into our clinics and hospitals that they are behaving even worse than these Republican caricatures. They are throwing Granny under the bus, backing over her, and then burning rubber across the splinters of her rocking chair.
Specifically, the various Democrat bills under consideration would fund a massive explosion in federal health-care expenditures by extracting some $450 billion from Medicare’s budget through 2019.
This includes “hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud” that President Obama breezily says can be trimmed from Medicare — just like that. If Medicare truly is this mismanaged, then government-dominated medicine is a model to avoid. If, however, government medicine efficiently lowers costs, Medicare should lack such budgetary blubber, leaving little to excise.
Which is it?
Democrats want to squeeze $113 billion from the Medicare Advantage program that satisfies 10 million seniors. Democrats also would slash Medicare reimbursements to doctors who see elderly patients. Medicare typically pays such physicians 80 cents per dollar of their usual prices. Curb those payments by another 25 percent, as the Senate Finance Committee recommends, and doctors will see even fewer Medicare patients. Likewise, if grocers earned only 60 cents on each dollar of food sold to seniors, Granny soon would be unwelcome at supermarkets.
Had the GOP mulled even a fraction of these cuts, Republican National Headquarters would be a smoking ruin. GOP members of Congress would be clad in Kevlar. And Republicans nationwide would be excoriated for geronticide.
Now, as Democrats attempt to enact these savings, the media slumber at their desks while AARP stands down. The staff of the elders’ lobby seems more excited about securing the socialist dream of government medicine than watching the backs of its 40 million mainly retired, dues-paying members.
According to contemporaneous news accounts, things were far louder in late 1995 when the GOP Congress weighed 6 percent Medicare growth, rather than the 10 percent previously projected.
As the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) growled: “It is clear that there is a new meaning to G.O.P. — Get Old People.”
If Republicans “control the White House, the Congress and the federal courts,” predicted Sen. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.), “they will do everything they could to see that Medicare and Medicaid would wither on the vine.”
“I’m talking about the hard-line Republicans now,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.). “They’re cutting the heart out of Medicare.”
Then-Rep. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) warned that GOP policy errors “are going to destroy the Medicare system and leave senior citizens without any health care.”
“They finally hit on this idea of saving Medicare,” said then-White House aide George Stephanopoulos. “It sounds like the old Vietnam argument that they had to destroy the village to save it.”
The late, great Robert Novak reported in November 1995: “White House press secretary Michael McCurry said Republicans ‘probably’ would like to see senior citizens ‘just die and go away’ along with Medicare.”
Democrats are in charge now, and they practically can taste the government medicine they covet. Thus, things are as eerily quiet as the pillow they have poised to stuff over Granny’s face.
— Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.