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Steele Promises Government Will Never Get Between Seniors and Their Medicare

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Steele Promises Government Will Never Get Between Seniors and Their Medicare"

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Michael Steele offering some nonsense in rare form. The venue, naturally, is the op-ed pages of the Washington Post whose editors once again display the casual contempt for the truth and for their readers that is the hallmark of their approach to journalism:

Second, we need to prohibit government from getting between seniors and their doctors. The government-run health-care experiment that Obama and the Democrats propose will give seniors less power to control their own medical decisions and create government boards that would decide what treatments would or would not be funded. Republicans oppose any new government entity overruling a doctor’s decision about how to treat his or her patient.

The crux of the matter here is that absent government getting between seniors and their doctors and offering to pay the doctors’ bills most seniors would be unable to afford the level of medical care they need. That’s why liberals created Medicare in 1965. Conservatives opposed this “government-run health-care experiment” at the time and derided it as likely to lead to socialism. Here’s Ronald Reagan laying out the case against Medicare.

But obviously once the government says it will pay for medical care the question arises of how much it should pay and for what. Currently that decision is in the hands of congress, which is not well-suited to making technical judgments about appropriate reimbursement rates for medical procedures. The Obama administration has proposed outsourcing the bulk of the decision-making to an expert body, known as IMAC, that would naturally still be subject to being overruled by congress. The idea is to prevent lobbyist-driven overpayments, not to deny care to seniors. And it would save the government some money over the long run. Which, you would think, conservatives would be happy about. Especially when you consider that conservatives don’t think Medicare should exist in the first place! But instead of being happy, we’ve got this campaign of deception, fearmongering, and opportunism.

So congratulations to Fred Hiatt for landing such a buzzworthy piece of nonsense for his publication and I hope the right-wing enjoys the giant tax hikes we’ll be enacting down the road once they show the political world that any attempt to trim Medicare spending, no matter how modest, will be savaged by opportunists on the other side.

Update

Dave Weigel brings to my attention the fact that Ronald Reagan spent much of the 1980 campaign trying to disavow his earlier opposition to Medicare.

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