An overwhelming majority of older voters chose Republican Congressional candidates in Tuesday’s election. They were propelled in large part, we suspect, by distorted and inflammatory attack ads claiming that President Obama’s health care reforms would “gut” their Medicare coverage and implying that a Republican-controlled Congress would somehow rescue them. . . .
Those ads may have worked, but they were also misleading or dead wrong on several counts. First, there is no way to slow the rise in Medicare costs — essential to addressing the deficit — without some changes in the Medicare program. And despite all the talk of gutting, what reform calls for is a reduction in the rate of increase in payments to health care providers, to encourage more efficiency, and a scale back in the unjustified subsidies to the private Medicare advantage programs. . . .
John Boehner, the likely next House speaker, tipped his hand in late September, telling an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that he would push to “repeal the $550 billion worth of Medicare cuts; and let’s see how many votes that bill gets in the House and Senate.”
What Mr. Boehner has yet to explain is how he would pay for that $550 billion. Those savings are a major reason why health care reform is projected to reduce the deficit over the next two decades and to extend the life of Medicare’s trust fund for hospital insurance by 12 years, thus shoring up the very program that Republicans say they want to save.
Remember, you read it here first. But it is ultimately the responsibility of politicians who sincerely want to preserve and improve Medicare -- which by definition does not include Republicans -- to explain this. If Americans want a Medicare program that will be there for them and meet their needs as they grow older, we will have to restructure so it delivers more value for less money. And yes, there is plenty of room to do that. When John Boehner and the rest of the tools of plutocracy start demagoguing about "cuts" to the program, the president and the program's true champions in the Democratic party need to already be out in front, with the clear message that cutting costs means enhancing and preserving benefits. They aren't the same thing.
If you're looking for waste, fraud and abuse in government, start with the Department of Defense, and then go to Medicare. Spending less is the only way to do more for beneficiaries. But, obviously, that means that somebody won't be slurping up all that gravy any more. Those include drug companies, medical device makers, for-profit hospitals and nursing homes, and overpaid medical specialists. That's who's bankrolling Boehner and that's who's behind those dishonest attack ads. John Boehner, believe me, doesn't give a shit about Medicare beneficiaries.