Last week, I wrote an article for AmSpec in which I outlined how the ostensible candidate of “change” has reverted to the hoary Democrat practice of frightening elderly voters into casting their ballots for the Democrat presidential ticket.

Among the most disingenuous of Obama’s scare tactics is the accusation that John McCain plans to cut Medicare benefits. This particular charge is so dishonest that even CBS News characterized it as one of the “biggest whoppers” of the campaign.

That has not, however, stopped a variety of soi-disant health care experts from repeating the lie. The latest example can be found in this post by Maggie Mahar, in which she attributes McCain’s dark designs to the malign influence of that archfiend, Ronald Reagan:

If you want to understand McCain’s intentions toward Medicare you need to realize that his objections to the program are firmly grounded in a conservative ideology that can be traced back to Ronald Reagan.

Never mind that McCain has no actual “objections to the program.” Mahar isn’t encumbered by mere facts. She has something much better to work with—-signals—-which she detects in a reference to Reagan in Sarah Palin’s convention speech:

The McCain camp was signaling how it views Medicare—the day before the Wall Street Journal would announce that McCain planned to radically cut Medicare’s funding. To understand the message, it’s worth going back to 1961.

After making the obligatory catty remarks about Palin, which mercifully include nothing about the Governor’s wardrobe, Mahar solemnly advises her readers to “keep in mind” that McCain and his fellow Reaganites have a secret agenda to kill Medicare.

Mahar’s description of the wicked conspiracy to destroy Medicare reads like General Jack D. Ripper’s description of the commie plot to contaminate “our precious bodily fluids” via the flouridation of drinking water. But Mahar isn’t crazy, she’s just dishonest. 

Comments 2

  1. Maggie Mahar wrote:

    You forget to mention that McCain’s senior
    adviser has told the Wall Street Journal–and others–that McCain plans to cut $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years.

    How would he do it? -
    First, he said by “eliminating fraud” and changing payment policies. (which suggests paying providers less, which means fewer docs will take medicare patients.)

    After everyone pointed out that there is no way he can save $1.3 trillion that way,
    he then said they’d save the money by:

    “accelerating the computerization of health records, speeding the use of generic drugs, eliminating government subsidies for private Medicare Advantage plans, and requiring high-income beneficiaries to pay more for pharmaceuticals.”.

    Let’s look at this list, item by item. While electronic medical records could reduce waste in the long run, experience has shown that it takes at least ten years for healthcare IT to begin to pay off. In the meantime, where would the Senator find the money to install the technology and train doctors and hospital staff to use it? Electronic medical records would be a fine investment: but this is not a way that Medicare can save billions over the next decade.
    Installing ERMS and trraining people to use them is hugelly expensive. Experience shows that you cannot expect to save any money for at least 10 years.
    Speeding the use of generics should reap some savings —though if you buy generics, you have probably noticed that prices are spiraling. As for eliminating the bonus that Medicare now lavishes on private insurers that offer Medicare Advantage, that would trim spending by $16 billion. But that’s still far from the $1.3 trillion that McCain aims to save.

    Finally, what about the last item: “requiring high-income beneficiaries to pay more for pharmaceuticals?? Let me suggest that this gets to the heart of the matter . . .

    Raising co-pays is a way of cutting benefits.

    There are, in fact, many, many ways to very quietly cut benefits. The Bush administration raised Part B co-pays for all Medicare reciipients by an average of 11 PERCNET a year, from 2000 to 2007.

    Then Bush added a 13 percent surcharge for wealthier seniors.

    Now McCain is planning yet another surcharge for wealthier seniors.

    And, as I explained in the piece, if you keep raising co-pays on wealthier patients, many healthl care economists predict that they will beginning dropping out of Medicare . . .

    This means the program begins to lose support. And there will be less money to care for the less wealthy seniors left on the plan.

    moving to electronic medical records.”

    But the cost of installing EMRS and training people to use them is so high that one cannot expect Any savings in 10 years.

    Posted 31 Oct 2008 at 3:30 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    Maggie, simply repeating your argument does not make it more convincing.

    Two points:

    To ignore the need to control Medicare costs would be utterly irresponsible (for any candidate). That McCAin’s people are talking honestly about that (unlike your candidate) is a PLUS.

    Your basic thesis that McCain has a stealth agenda to cut benefits is just a rehash of the tired and tawdry “Mediscare” tactic that we see every election cycle.

    It is dishonest and destructive.

    Posted 01 Nov 2008 at 7:14 am

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