Monday, August 13, 2012

Robbing Medicare?

On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus made a bold claim. In response to David Gregory pointing out that Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's VP pick, has recently pushed a bill in Congress to destroy Medicare and privatize it, Priebus said that Obama had "robbed $700 billion from Medicare and used it to pay for Obamacare. That's really destroying Medicare."

Oh, really?

I wanted this blog post to be about why Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan in the first place. I'll get to that. But first things first...

I also wanted to see what PolitiFact had to say about this one. But, damn it all, I couldn't wait for a claim this bold to be exposed, so I took to researching it myself. DISCLAIMER: An earlier version of this blog post was wrong, wrong, wrong. I quoted Priebus as saying 700 million rather than 700 billion, and my overall premise was off-base. My apologies. But this time, I got it right.

First, it's true that Obamacare -- Oops! Sorry. I meant Romneycare -- does cut spending on Medicare by $500 million. Due to some dickering with numbers, it could be made as high as $700 million. (I recently heard the Romster saying that it was up to $745 billion, or something. It keeps going up!) We'll pretend that $700 million is accurate, just for brevity. That cut, incidentally, prevents Medicare from going insolvent. Pretty damned important, I should say. But let's repay this in slow motion:

The new health care law takes $700 million from Medicare and uses it to help pay for expanded coverage for seniors. That much is true. In other words, "Obamacare" takes $700M from health care coverage for seniors and uses it -- drum roll, please -- to pay for health care coverage for seniors! Go figure!

So this could be framed as "robbing" only if one thinks that the new health care law is paying for something worthless. It isn't of course. If a pickpocket takes the $20 bill from your pocket, then puts a different $20 bill back, has he robbed you of anything?

Maybe if someone convinces you the other $20 bill was a phony. It isn't, but if you believe it, you'll feel robbed.

Another aspect of Obama's saving of Medicaid through strategic cuts is eliminating fraud and waste. That might sound like political bullshit, but it's absolutely possible to save that much and more by eliminating fraud. In a 60 Minutes expose which aired in September of 2010, Steve Kroft reported that Medicare fraud had surpassed the sale of cocaine as a major criminal enterprise.

Again, DISCLAIMER: I'd gotten this part slightly wrong in that I'd previously said that the removal of fraud would more than make up for the "cuts" in Medicare. Not true. But I straightened it out.
It works like this: Crooks set up a phony medical treatment facility, bill real patients for medical treatments they didn't receive, then take the money and run. The pre-Obama reform Medicare system then pays the claim before they're audited! Money first, policing of the money later. By the time the IRS and FBI find the crooks, they've already disappeared, leaving behind only the abandoned storefront which provided nothing more than an address.

60 Minutes reported that some $60 Billion in taxpayer dollars was getting wasted every year this way! With our national debt, we simply can't afford that much money, much less having it go into the pockets of crooks!

But all that was before Obamacare.

One thing Obamacare did which was absolutely essential was to make it far more difficult for criminal interests to put forth phony claims. In other words, thanks to the new Health Care Law, claims are audited first, before money goes out.

Great. But did it work? Is Obamacare eliminating the fraud?

You bet your ass it is! Back in May, the AP reported the largest bust of Medicare fraudsters so far. $500 million in waste was immediately recovered. And that was just one bust! The Obama administration was, at that time, closing in on one billion in recovered fraud losses, and that was just in the first quarter of 2012! And more to come! As crooks see that their criminal enterprise is way more risky, many drop out. That saves even more money! It's a positive multiplier, resulting in billions more saved!

Way to go, Barry!

But if the health care law is repealed, all that goes away. The criminals, real rather than political, will get their $60 billion per year payoff right back again.

Love it, or hate it, you're stuck with Obamacare. You can't repeal. You can only refine.
So where does Priebus, this needle-dicked, two-timing, thrice evil, quadrupedal and quintessential shithead get off calling Obama a crook, when all Our Trophy President did was to crack down on crooks, cut spending, save money, save Medicare and do one hell of a bang-up job in spite of ass-wipes like him getting in the way?!

What an asshole! If RNC Chairman Reince Priebus were twice as smart, he'd still be a retard!

We are not in the Joseph McCarthy Era anymore. We are in a new era where an entire political party is comprised of nothing but McCarthys.

And the latest of them is, like the original McCarthy, also from Wisconsin. But that's my next blog post.

Eric

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