Fact Checking Republican Medicare Scare-Tactics

Where is the so-called liberal media?

Not too long ago, I pointed out the (more than) obvious lies of the Republican Party as it relates to Medicare and seniors. Just this past week, I was watching C-SPAN as the Senate debated and voted on a few amendments. In the course of events, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) led the charge as a number of Republican legislators demonstrated a politically common, but unfortunate, phenomenon coined as “doublethink”—that is to hold two contradictory realities to be simultaneously true. It is either this, or they are consciously and flagrantly lying. There are no other possibilities. So here we go again…

Senator McCain introduced an amendment to send the health care reform legislation back to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to remove $491 billion in Medicare cuts. He said on the floor:

Madame President, simply put, this motion to commit would be a requirement that we eliminate the half a trillion dollars in Medicare cuts that is envisioned by this bill. A half a trillion dollars in cuts that are unspecified as to how, and a half a trillion dollars in cuts that would directly impact the health care of citizens in this country. … All of these are cuts in the obligations that we have assumed and are the rightful benefits that people have earned. I will eagerly look forward to hearing from the authors of this legislation as to how they can possibly achieve a half a trillion dollars in cuts without impacting existing Medicare programs negatively and eventually lead to rationing of health care in this country. That is what this motion is all about. This motion is to eliminate those unwarranted cuts.

Surely under some sort of self-hypnosis, Senator McCain cannot conceive of how the Democrats can remove half a trillion dollars from Medicare without “negatively” impacting Medicare and “leading to rationing of care.” Senator McCain said this with a straight face even though in October 2008, the McCain campaign announced that he would finance his health care plan with “major reductions to Medicare and Medicare cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years.” This would inevitably reduce these programs by as much as 20% in 10 years and cut into benefits.

Senator McCain voted (with a number of Democrats) for a series of Medicare cuts in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The legislation called for a decrease in Medicare spending by 12.7% over 10 years and instituted the kind of payment updates that the Senate health care bill is now recommending. Therefore, the Republicans have chosen to lie (and badly at that) and insist that the Democrats are out to “get” grandma rather than virtuously arguing, with great credibility and as much political potency, that the Democrats have stolen from their playbook and are, more or less, conceding that a Republican idea has been a great idea all along. Under Republican leadership such a thing could have been achieved long ago, they could argue, which only shows that the Democrats don’t make good leaders. They’re over a decade behind, the argument could go. Instead they are promoting “senior scare” with FactCheck.org calling their claims false.

Prior to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the GOP sought to cut 14% from projected Medicare spending over seven years and shuffle millions of elderly recipients into managed health care programs, or HMOs. Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaking about Medicare to a Blue Cross Blue Shield conference on October 24, 1995, said “Now, we don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it—voluntarily.” [New York Times, 7/20/1996] Such words are light years away from the current rhetoric that seniors “love” their Medicare and those anti-elderly Democrats ought to stop trying to destroy the program.

If it is true that seniors “love” their Medicare as I have heard one Republican congressman assert, then he must be proud that his party did not succeed when the majority of Senate Republicans voted against the Senate passage of Medicare and the final conference report.[Congressional Record, 7/9/1965; Social Security Administration, accessed 12/6/2009].

It also must be remembered that Senator Curtis (R-NE) voiced GOP opposition to Medicare in 1965 stating, “[Medicare] is not needed. It is socialism.  It moves the country in a direction which is not good for anyone, whether they be young or old.  It charts a course from which there will be no turning back….It is not only socialism – it is brazen socialism.” With all the rhetoric about the Democratic Party’s “galloping” socialistic economic policies, it is inconceivable that any principled Republican would not support gutting Medicare once and for all; moreover, the GOP’s own beloved President Reagan focused on cutting Medicare by cutting benefits, in particular through increased cost-sharing for Medicare and Medicaid recipients. In fact, during the Reagan Administration, Republican Senator Gramm argued that significant cuts to Medicare would not affect beneficiaries, saying, “People are confused because when you say ‘Medicare’ you think of mama…Don’t think of mama, think of doctors and hospitals.” [United Press International, 11/5/85]

This trend continued into the Bush Administration. In 1992 the GOP-controlled White House introduced a plan calling for increases in premiums and co-pays for which seniors were financially responsible as well as increases in private insurance premiums for supplementary Medicare policies. Such changes the CBO estimated would have increased senior spending on health care from 7% of their incomes to nearly 12% by 1997.

Years later, Senator Bob Dole boasted to the American Conservative Union while campaigning for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare…because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [Washington Post, 10/26/1995]

In the past decade alone, Republicans lawmakers have voted against protecting or strengthening Medicare nearly 60 times. [Senate Roll Call Votes, Congressional Record, 2008: S.V. 169, S.V. 160, S.V. 149; 2007: S.V. 132;  2006: S.V. 71, S.V. 50, S.V. 49, S.V. 5;  2005: S.V. 342, S.V. 302, S.V. 297, S.V. 294, S.V. 287, S.V. 60;  2003: S.V. 259, S.V. 258, S.V. 257, S.V. 254, S.V. 253, S.V. 251, S.V. 250, S.V. 249, S.V. 246, S.V. 245, S.V. 244, S.V. 242, S.V. 241, S.V. 240, S.V. 239, S.V. 236, S.V. 234, S.V. 233, S.V. 232, S.V. 230, S.V. 229, S.V. 227, S.V. 173, S.V. 82, S.V. 63, S.V. 21;  2002: S.V. 199, S.V. 186;  2001: S.V. 137, S.V. 122, S.V. 117, S.V. 66;  2000: S.V. 206, S.V. 195, S.V. 186, S.V. 162, S.V. 144, S.V. 65, S.V. 53;  1999: S.V. 229, S.V. 79, S.V. 76, S.V. 66, S.V. 59]

Just last year, the Senate overrode  President Bush’s veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. All the Senators voting to support President Bush’s veto were Republican. [S.V. 177, 7/15/2008] It is even more telling that all Senators voting against cloture on the legislation to begin with, except for the Minority Leader for procedural reasons, were Republicans—three times [S.V. 169, 7/9/2008]; S.V. 160, 6/26/2008 and S.V. 149, 6/12/2008 – Leader voted against cloture as required by the Senate rules]. Most telling, just this year the Republican budget proposal introduced in the House would have virtually abolished Medicare as we know it.

Somehow, someway despite all the irrefutable evidence—the obvious historical opposition of the Republican Party to Medicare—Senators Alexander, Coburn, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell spoke on the Senate floor this past Thursday advocating the McCain amendment that ultimately failed during a floor vote. One might suggest that we regularly test our Senators for self-hypnosis, Alzheimer’s, amnesia, or all three because a quick glance at their Medicare voting record makes one question how these gentleman could not have some sort of intellectual schizophrenia? The only other logical explanation is that they are lying and they are well aware of it. Though one would think they would at least try to lie more convincingly. Despite their rhetoric, these Republican Senators have:

Voted To Cut Medicare By $6.4 Billion. Senators Alexander, Coburn, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell all voted in favor of the budget reconciliation bill that cut funding for Medicare by $6.4 billion by requiring that beneficiaries purchase medical equipment and cutting payments to home health care providers. The motion passed 50-50, with Vice President Cheney casting the deciding vote. [S. 1932, Vote #363, 12/21/05]

Cut $5.78 Billion From Medicare. Senators Alexander, Coburn, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell all voted in favor of passage of a Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Resolution that would cut $5.78 billion from Medicare. The legislation passed 52-47.  [S. 1932, Vote #303, 11/3/05]

Tabled An Amendment That Would Have Given The Sickest Seniors $12 Billion In Medicare Funding. Senators Alexander, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell all voted to table an amendment that would have allocated $12 billion for additional treatment for Medicare beneficiaries with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and disabilities. The motion to table passed 57-41. [S. 1, Vote #253, 6/26/03]

Voted To Put Needs Of Wealthy Americans Over The Needs Of American Seniors. Senators Alexander, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell all voted against an amendment that would reduce the enormous tax cut given to the wealthiest American tax payers in order to give a fair reimbursement to rural health care providers under Medicare. The amendment failed.  [SCR 23, Vote #89, 3/25/03]

Voted Against Increasing Medicare And Medicaid Funding By $4.1 Billion. Senators Alexander, Crapo, Enzi, McCain, and McConnell all voted against a measure which would have increased funding for health care programs under Medicare and Medicaid by $4.1 billion. The motion was rejected 41-56. [HJR 2, Vote #21, 1/23/03]

Voted In Favor Of Cutting Medicare Nearly $160 Billion Over Six Years. Senators McCain and McConnell voted to cut Medicare by $158.1 billion over six years.  First – the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Resolution that contained the cut and, Second – the same cut in the conference report.  Both passed 53-46. [H.C.R. 178, Vote #156, 5/23/1996; H.C.R. 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96]

  • Budget Cuts Included Reductions In Medicare, Medicare, Welfare, And Discretionary Spending. Senators McCain and McConnell voted in favor of adopting of the conference report on the concurrent resolution to establish a six-year plan to balance the federal budget by 2002. Projected spending cuts over six years include $158.1 billion in Medicare, $72 billion from Medicaid, $53 billion from welfare and $297.9 billion from discretionary spending. The conference report passed 53-46. [HCR 178, Vote #159, 6/13/96]

Cut $270 Billion From Medicare. Senators McCain and McConnell voted in favor of a budget that would cut Medicare by $270 billion. The budget passed.  [H.R. 2491, Vote #584, 11/17/1995; H.R. 2491, Vote #556, 10/27/1995; H.C.R. 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95]

Voted Against Reducing Medicare Cuts By $181 Billion In Favor Of Tax Cuts For The Wealthy. Senators McCain and McConnell voted against a motion reducing cuts to Medicare by $181 billion by reducing tax cuts for upper income taxpayers. The motion was rejected 46-53. [S. 1357, Vote #499, 10/26/95]

Voted To Maintain Tax Cuts Instead Of Reducing Medicare Cuts By $100 Billion. Senators McCain and McConnell voted against an amendment to reduce by $100 billion the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid by reducing tax cuts. The amendment failed 46-52. [S.C.R. 13, Vote #173, 5/22/95]

Voted To Preserve Tax Cuts For The Wealthy Instead Of Reducing Medicare Cuts By $181 Billion. Senators McCain and McConnell voted against a motion reducing cuts to Medicare by $181 billion by reducing tax cuts for upper income taxpayers. The motion was rejected 46-53. [S 1357, Vote #499, 10/26/95]

Voted Against Increasing Medicare Payments To Hospitals By $4.5 Billion. Senators McCain and McConnell voted against an amendment restoring $4.5 billion in payments under Medicare to hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of poor patients. The amendment failed 47-52. [S 1357, Vote #524, 10/27/95]

Voted In Favor Of Cutting $296 Billion From Medicare. Senators McCain and McConnell voted to adopt the conference report on the fiscal 1996 budget resolution to put in place a seven-year plan to balance the budget by 2002 by cutting projected spending by $894 billion, including cuts of $270 billion from Medicare, $182 billion from Medicaid, $190 billion in non-defense spending, and $175 billion from various entitlement programs such as welfare. The conference report was agreed to 54-46. [HCR 67, Vote #296, 6/29/95]

If the “new” GOP is correct and the Democratic health care proposal will require seniors to pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced, or worse, rationed, very well then. If this it is the case, Senator Coburn (R-OK) is correct to say to seniors, “You’re going to die sooner.” But if that argument is valid, it is rightly assumed that if the Republicans had their way up until this point, those same seniors would already be dead—with the help of Senator Coburn’s vote.

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24 Responses to Fact Checking Republican Medicare Scare-Tactics

  • Kevin in Texas says:

    Eric, there’s a flaw in your logic that doesn’t show up until the very end of your post:

    “If the “new” GOP is correct and the Democratic health care proposal will require seniors to pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced, or worse, rationed, very well then. If this it is the case, Senator Coburn (R-OK) is correct to say to seniors, “You’re going to die sooner.” But if that argument is valid, it is rightly assumed that if the Republicans had their way up until this point, those same seniors would already be dead—with the help of Senator Coburn’s vote.”

    It looks like you’re assuming that what the GOP was long pushing wrt Medicre cuts would have had exactly the same effects on seniors (had they been passed) as what the Democrats are currently pushing with their proposed cuts. But that’s a flawed assumption. I admit I haven’t read all of your links about some of those votes and speeches from GOP Reps and Senators in the 90s, but if many were pushing to move many then Medicare-eligible seniors into HMOs (even if such a push would have cost those seniors more money out of pocket), that would have been, by definition, more care than what the current Dem plans will eventually offer. It’s simple economics to realize that even if they succeeded in cutting funding for Medicare (which will never happen in a million years!), then in order to reduce costs in their new universalized health care program, they would necessarily HAVE TO ration health care, and even if they won’t admit it now openly, they would ration care given to the elderly who generally use and need far more care to survive than do younger people.

    In no way am I trying to argue here that some Republicans aren’t simply trying to kill this current bill in any way possible, because they certainly are (and I’m not necessarily against that move, either!), but rather I’m saying that their current proposal is not hypocritical or irrational in the way you have put forth in this commentary, provided that back then they genuinely intended for the elderly to be shifted over to care by HMOs.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Kevin,

    The problem I have with your counter-argument is that it presupposes that rationing is not already the status quo. In Texas, for example, we have de facto legal euthanasia in that private sector ethics committees can go against written or verbal wishes in regard to one’s health care decision even if you are not terminally ill or receiving only ordinary means care. Typically for resource and budgetary reasons, the plug can be pulled and as long as the doctors and hospitals for the law to the letter they have full legal immunity (cf. Texas Futile Care Laws). If seniors were thrown to the whims of the private sector, they would be in ration-danger in a number of states particularly Texas and Virginia.

    The moral problems of the private sector are very personal and very real. I have a cousin who is pregnant who lost her job in the recession who only recently attained health care coverage after some months, only to lose it abruptly. Why? Her unborn child is a pre-existing condition. So she had to either pay absurdly higher than normal premiums or lose coverage all together.

    The problem with the health care system as its currently structured is largely by way of incentives. Private insurance, especially HMOs, have every motivation to not cover you in order to maintain profits. Once your premiums are paid, the more they pay back, the less they profit. This has played itself out largely as pricing out the elderly, the sickly, and pregnant women out of the market with the absurd nonsense of pre-existing conditions and medical history as a means to bar people from coverage — in other words, if high medical services is associated with some condition you have, are predisposed toward having, or if you are constantly sick, they’re not going to cover you or they will charge you an arm and a leg to offset some of their losses, or to indirectly nudge you toward another insurer. Considering the usual income of retired seniors, the costs associated with private insurance for seniors, and the expected health care needs of seniors, the destruction of Medicare could very well be the least pro-life thing one could do. It would inevitably lead to the greater rationing of care that is already takes place where one’s health care options are largely determined by the coverage one’s employer offers and what one’s insurance company dictates: what doctors you can see, what treatments they’ll reimburse, for how long one can receive that treatment, and that is only if they do not find some technicality on which to drop coverage — which surely would be high among seniors who would threaten budget sheets with their health needs.

    I can hardly imagine a private-insurer giving a poor or low-income senior a full range of options. On the contrary, their options will be tightly managed and their options will be as short as list as doctors they can choose from. Far from fixing the problem, I suspect more seniors will fall through the cracks. This is hardly an argument for the non-existent perfection of the Medicare program but only to reiterate my conviction that the Republican alternative is worse.

    Moreover, there is quite the difference in the cutting — which is largely being fudged by Republican lawmakers. From what, one must ask, are the Democrats cutting? They assert over and insufficient spending, waste, and fraud. The GOP, to my knowledge, would have cut from more than such things — including reimbursements, meaning there would have to be a rise in co-pays and the rise is indiscriminate regardless of one’s income.

    For many seniors, income is steady and not expected to rise anytime soon. To place such a burden on seniors, especially those with limited income without the slightest assistance is not pro-life, immoral, and totally neglects the principle of preferential option for the poor in the name of what I’d deem as some sort of pseudo-subsidiarity (as subsidiarity without solidarity is individualism, Enlightenment-borne, and hardly Catholic).

    So to your point that the Democrats would have to ration the care for the elderly who need far more care than the younger, the private industry would treat them by and large unjustly because of that same reason. A plausible reform — where you and I might be able to meet — is to explicitly authorize the right of Medicare recipients to supplement government payments for health insurance premiums with their own private money if they desire pay-for-fee private insurance. This will neither break the budget nor raise taxes; it’s sensible.

    I think our disagreement boils down to rationing of care. I see it as an already existing problem which would have happened largely via discrimination to seniors if the GOP had their way. A large number of seniors, including likely most of those in my family, would be terribly underinsured or not insured at all.

    But as far as I’m concerned, I cannot see how given the text of previous legislation and their rhetoric how this back-peddling is nothing more than pandering to American seniors.

    Lastly, HMOs are a centerpiece in the destruction of our health care system that began decades ago.

  • Wendy Posh says:

    From all sides of the political spectum agree that Medicare will be bankrupted in 10 years. So following a logical conclusion you have to cut spending or raise taxes.
    I heard one of the economist who devised the current healthcare plan, and still is advising the Democrats, said that in the 1990′s the cuts did not hurt seniors.
    So how much cuts would hurt seniors today? This same economist said that the $500,000 in cuts could have a 20% variance. Meaning their figures cannot be nail down.
    As I understand the plan cuts, would be transferred to the uninsured conservatively speaking 11 million out of the 25 million uninsured.
    With the baby boomers retiring in the next ten years the stain on services will increase. The services for the uninsured would have different medical needs or demand than seniors.
    To me this does not add up.

  • It’s not the job of government to provide health care, whether via Medicare / Medicaid or a National health Care Plan. We have abdicated to Caesar our job as members of the Body of Christ to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, care for the sick, etc. The legitimate job government has is the common defense and public security. But we insist of growing government to gargantuan proportions such that those who need care don’t get care.

    We need to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, National Health Care and all the rest of the socialized nonsense, and restore this country to the Consitutional Republic it once was instead of the national democracy it is becoming.

  • afl says:

    Regardless of voting, the fact is that the AARP sold out the Seniors. Their Medicare Supplemental Plans A thru F are their biggest profit makers along their Hartford Automobile Plan. Their supplemental plans underwritten by United Health are very expensive and have less coverage than Medical Advantage Plans ( even with Part D Rx added ) which will be stripped by the proposed bills. Medical Advnatage Plans have more coverage and cost less to the 9 Million plus Seniors that have them. AARP has been loosing policyholder to these plans which effected their profit and cut the deal to support the current health bill which strips Medical Advnatage Plans. Many Companies will now quit selling these plans to Seniors and the 2010 coverages for the these Medical Advantage Plans still available has new deductibles and 17 to 30% higher premiums. Check it out. Seniors will remeber this at the ballot box. I have no problem with getting rid of fraud, but if it has been so easy to defraud Medicare, why have they not increased their dilligence in the past to stop it instead of indicating the bill will prevent this and give us savings. Anything the government runs is full of fraud like the Defense and other departments so if they thing it will save money with the new bill, there are a lot of bridges I sell them.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Medicare is going to be bankrupt in the near future and Obamacare, in the unlikely event that it passes, would hasten that process. Medicare is also a prime example why making something material an entitlement is folly. Politicians will always be happy to increase benefits, and they will always be reluctant to pass the necessary tax increases to pay for them.

  • Art Deco says:

    Medicare is also a prime example why making something material an entitlement is folly. Politicians will always be happy to increase benefits, and they will always be reluctant to pass the necessary tax increases to pay for them.

    The economic historian Stanley Engerman told me some years ago that prior to 1914, the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product in occidental country was generally about 0.10. (Nowadays it exceeds 0.40 in most such countries). If I am not mistaken, the federal budget was routinely balanced prior to 1929 and state and local budgets are usually in balance in our own time. I have a suspicion that political scientists and economists of the public choice school can and have confounded phenomena that are contingent on a sequence of historical event with regular and abiding patterns of social life.

    I do not think it is that difficult to construct a old age pension program or a public health insurance program consistent with fiscal balance and stability in the proportionate size of the public sector. You have to have the retirement age on an escalator of the necessary velocity and you have to fix the deductibles on the insurance at a sufficient level. It is distressing that bipartisanship in demagogy renders this unfeasible (and that politicians calculate, perhaps correctly, that their constituencies eat it up).

  • Very good post. The extent of nihilism on the Republican side of this debate is staggering.

    Just a couple of points:

    * I think we all agree that the current pace of Medicare spending is unsustainable. And yet, the growth in costs is now, and has always been, lower than costs in the private sector. That’s pretty good given that the risk pool in Medicare is pretty poor. The fact that everybody pays attention to medicare and not to the problem of private insurance is simply because the costs in the latter are largely hidden (they come mostly in the form of lower wages). This mental compartmentalization is also true, by the way, for abortion funding – nobody seems to care when the private sector does it, even if all of our premiums are tainted.

    * Unlike the Republican alternatives from 1994-2008 (before they became staunch defender of a single payer government-run healthcare system), the proposed savings will not affect the quality of benefits. Hence the AARP support. Much of it comes from getting rid of the subsidies to Medicare Advantage (a direct transfer of funds to private insurers – oh, and by the way, these insurance companies are almost certainly paying for abortion somewhere). And then there is the Medicare Commission. Pretty much all the health economists working on this issue, including McCain’s adviser, have lauded the delivery system proposals. Will they work? Who knows. But it’s the most ambitious package ever put on the table. And the AARP is still on board – I consider that impressive.

  • S.B. says:

    I think we all agree that the current pace of Medicare spending is unsustainable. And yet, the growth in costs is now, and has always been, lower than costs in the private sector.

    So what? You say this as if it logically proves that replacing the private sector with a new government program will lead to lower growth, but that isn’t a logical necessity at all.

  • MM,

    The cost of MediCare _per enrollee_ is growing slower than private sector insurance costs — though much of this is doubltless because the MediCare costs per enrollee are already a bit more than 2x the cost of private insurance enrollees, so the dollar per enrollee annuan increase is similar or greater.

    The reason why MediCare runs into big problems over the next ten years, however, has nothing to do with per enrollee costs. It’s that MediCare was created and funded around the assumption there would always be lots more working Americans paying payroll taxes than Americans over 65 collecting benefits. However, as people have chosen to have fewer and fewer children, yet medical technology has allowed them to live longer and longer, we’re reaching the point where the _number_ of enrollees passes a tipping point in comparison to the number of workers.

    Reductions in payouts per enrollee will slow the problem down a little bit, but what really needs to go on here is a gradual shift _away_ from the single-payer-for-all-whether-they-need-it-or-not approach which statists are committed to and towards an approach which is focused on helping people only to the extent that they need help.

    Even you should be able to see that there’s little justice in taking payroll taxes from a young working person living just over the poverty line, and using them to pay for “free” health care for a senior with a million in assets.

    This is where the type of MediCare cuts actually matters quite a bit. The responsible and indeed necessary cuts which Republicans have (at times) supported would involve means testing MediCare so that people share costs according to their means. This would clearly not involve telling people to “die sooner”, it would just involve the common sense idea that you shouldn’t be mooching off other people when you’re perfectly capable of taking care of yourself.

    What excuse there could possibly be for opposing means testing for both MediCare and Social Security other than extreme statism I really can’t imagine, but unfortunately it’s anathema to one side of the political sprectrum.

  • Tony says:

    This has played itself out largely as pricing out the elderly, the sickly, and pregnant women out of the market with the absurd nonsense of pre-existing conditions and medical history as a means to bar people from coverage — in other words, if high medical services is associated with some condition you have, are predisposed toward having, or if you are constantly sick, they’re not going to cover you or they will charge you an arm and a leg to offset some of their losses, or to indirectly nudge you toward another insurer.

    Being pregnant is indeed a pre-existing conditon. It’s unfair to shift the cost of someone who is going to consume many more services to those who will not.

    Insurance is a bet. The insurance company plays the odds based on actuarial tables of other people like you and charges premiums accordingly. Stepping up to the betting window pregnant is a sucker bet for the insurance company.

    Insurance companies, in most cases, would like to issue riders for those people who fall into a certain type of risk. This would mean that someone who has a pre-existing condition (pregnancy, not cancer-free for 5 years, etc.) can pay extra for a rider to cover that. Many states don’t allow that, though. They, through their oh-so-compassionate policies, force every insurance policy to cover pregnancy or cancer, even though I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be pregnant. So the insurance companies have a choice. Take a loss or deny coverage. The government isn’t worried about taking a loss, because they can always hold a gun to our head for more money (or sneak it quietly by the monetary inflation of printing money). Insurance companies can only raise premiums.

    So the state regiations are causing the increase in pricing that the federal government is trying to address.

  • Gabriel Austin says:

    I am bewildered that all of the discussion about the “health care” proposals is not about health care. It is about paying for health care.

    Where in the bill is provision for new hospitals? for new clinics [not including abortuaries]? for new medical schools? for reducing the monopoly protection of pharmaceutical companies?

    When a new road is need, we expect the government to build the road. Is medical care any different?

    Us old folks will continue to get older and [God help us!] require medical assistance. So will the baby boomers, much as they refuse to acknowledge the aging and the weakening of their bodies. Should even they be granted medical care?

    Care of the old and the weak is the mark of the greatness of a civilization [S. Johnson], not fancy words in declarations and constitutions.

    It seems to me it would be a great help were Congress to dismantle its own overly expensive, coddling health programs. This would undoubtedly inject some reality into the discussion.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Thanks Tito.

    Tony — such a statement is the epitome of Enlightenment-borne individualism. It is not pro-life to treat pregnancy as some sort of disease or means to expand profit margins at the expense of pregnant women, particularly those likely to abort their child.

    To whom much is given, much is required. “Fair” is not what benefits one’s self in terms of personal gain.

  • American Knight says:

    I like that last post Eric. “Fair” is not what benefits one’s self in terms of personal gain. The converse is also true, “Fair” is not something government run by sinners can secure by diminishing the incentive to be responsible, prudent, thrifty and profitable.

    The economic law of scarcity is a fact. We are all sinners – fact. Government is force – fact. This bill is about health care as much as anti-Catholicism is angst at organized religion.

    This bill is designed to destroy health care. Just like the cap and trade is designed to deestroy energy. And the Obama-Pelosi-Reid axis of evil is bringing to fruition the nihilism of neo-Marxism.

    Democrats are fools to think that progressivism or liberalism can delve far enough into evil without falling off a cliff. Republicans are idiots for thinking that anyone is buying their lies about being pro-life, pro-Medicare, pro-small government, pro-lower taxes. Republicans are noting more than Democrat lite – controlled opposition. Do you think this crap would be much different had McCaine won?

    Politicians lie. We are a neo-pagan nation on our way to becoming extinct. This would have happened a long time ago save for the more than 60% of Americans who worship the one Triune God at least weekly. We are running out of time and this left/right mirage is way too distracting – get over it. We are Catholics – we are not Democrats or Republicans.

    I can’t beleive that inelligent people actually think 2,000+ page bills are going to provide this coutnry with anything good. Y’all are so naive it is sad.

  • RobbyS says:

    What the bill proposes is the creation of an gigantic HMO governed by a secretary of HHS with great increased powers. Anyone who has worked in government knows that this thing is too huge to be efficient. Not many years ago, DoD totally lost track of 20 Billion dollars of appropriated funds. Sixty Minutes did an “expose” of the Department of the Army in which many tons of materials were just stuffed into warehouses and no one knew the stuff was there, so the Army just ordering it all over again.

  • RobbyS says:

    What happens when health care is taken over by government can be seen in the English NHS. It is one of the largest employers in the world, and too few of them are those who provide medical services. In the military, there is a huge tip to tail ratio between those who provide logistical support and those who do the fighting. The same will come about with the health care system.

  • Lawrence Pate says:

    Frankly Eric, I did not think must of your essay and attack on Republicans. To call this a fact check site is hypocrisy of a high degree when you post such slanted Democrat Party propaganda.
    I have spent many hours,way to many, studying the health care bill in its various versions. Public Law No: 111-148 is the final result signed by Obama.
    This was never about health care but about government control of one sixth of the economy.
    When did the Catholic Church in America become a branch of the Democrat Party?

  • Eric Brown says:

    Lawrence,

    Here’s some advice: Read my post. I merely pointed out that the Republican rhetoric involving Medicare is historically inconsistent with their position on Medicare and this specifically true of Senators and Representatives who are recorded saying contradictory things.

    I think in the political world it’s called pandering to voters. I wasn’t aware I was promoting propaganda as I am a pro-life Democrat that opposed the final health care bill.

    Moreover when did I say that the Catholic Church in America is a branch of the Democratic Party?

    Quite obviously you didn’t read anything I said and decided to comment to go on a soapbox for the sake of doing so.

  • Russell King says:

    I just found this post and your blog while doing some research, and I think both are worthy of a bookmark and many return visits! Thank you for what you’re doing.

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