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GOP’s Latest Campaign Punch On Health Care Relies On Classic Hook: Medicare

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story will be republished totally free (details).

Once once more, Medicare is entrance and middle on this fall’s campaigns.

Democrats all through the election season have been hammering Republicans over votes and lawsuits that may get rid of insurance coverage protections for preexisting conditions for shoppers.

But now Republicans are working to vary the well being care dialog with a tried-and-true approach utilized by each events over time: telling seniors their Medicare protection could also be at risk.

It’s not but clear, nevertheless, whether or not these reliable voters are responding to the warning.

Republicans cost that Democrats’ assist for increasing Medicare would threaten the viability of this system for the seniors who depend upon it.

“The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised,” wrote President Donald Trump in a guest column for USA Today on Oct. 10. “Under the Democrats’ plan, today’s Medicare would be forced to die.”

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In a speech to the National Press Club on Oct. 8, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated nearly precisely the identical factor. “Democrats call it ‘Medicare-for-all,’ because it sounds good, but in reality, it actually ends Medicare in its current form,” Ryan stated.

It’s a sentiment being expressed by Republicans up and down the poll. In New Jersey, the place Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber is working for an open U.S. House seat, he enlisted his aged father in one of his ads. After the candidate notes that his opponent is “interested” in Medicare-for-all, Webber’s father, Jim Webber, says, “That would end Medicare as we know it.”

Fact-checkers have repeatedly challenged these claims. Health insurance coverage analyst Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute told PolitiFact that suggesting Medicare-for-all would disrupt present enrollees’ protection is a “horrible mischaracterization of the proposal.” Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column noted that a number one proposal “in theory would expand benefits for seniors.”

Furthermore, in New Jersey, Webber’s Democratic opponent, Mikie Sherrill, will not be one of many many Democrats who’ve particularly endorsed the thought of Medicare-for-all. In reality, easy methods to guarantee well being protection for all Americans stays some extent of rivalry amongst Democrats. They are removed from united on the subject of increasing Medicare.

But Republicans have pushed the problem this fall, stated Harvard public well being professor and polling knowledgeable Robert Blendon, as a result of “people over 60 are very high-turnout voters,” significantly in non-presidential election years like 2018.

Issues involving Medicare and Social Security can encourage these older voters much more, stated Blendon, “because they are so dependent on [those programs] for the rest of their lives. Retirees are very scared about outliving their benefits.”

Medicare is commonly a rallying cry for politicians from each events. And it may be crucial in each presidential and off-year elections.

In 1996, Democrats generally, and President Bill Clinton specifically, campaigned on the early GOP makes an attempt to rein in Medicare spending. Republicans coined the time period “Mediscare” to explain Democrats’ assaults. But within the 2010 midterm contests, simply after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans zoomed in on the billions of dollars of Medicare payment reductions to well being suppliers to assist pay for the remainder of the legislation, sparking protests towards Democrats across the nation.

The irony is that after Republicans regained management of the House in that election, Ryan, then head of the House Budget Committee, opted to name for a repeal of every part within the ACA except the Medicare reductions the GOP had so strongly campaigned towards.

Democrats in 2018 have hammered again, noting that each Trump and the GOP Congress have proposed much more cuts in Medicare and that beneath Republican management the insolvency date of the Medicare belief fund has gotten closer.

According to Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell additionally misstepped when, in an interview with Bloomberg News, he blamed greater deficit numbers on Medicare and different entitlement applications moderately than the GOP’s tax cuts from 2017.

“We can’t sustain the Medicare we have at the rate we’re going, and that’s the height of irresponsibility,” he stated.

That got here after Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow urged that the administration will push for bigger entitlement cuts in 2019.

“First they passed a tax bill that gave a huge windfall to corporations and the wealthy, despite warnings from nonpartisan scorekeepers that it would explode the deficit,” stated an announcement from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the highest Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “Then, before the ink was even dry the knives came out for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

Despite the coordinated speaking factors, it’s unclear whether or not this yr’s GOP assaults on Democrats over Medicare will work. That isn’t just as a result of Democrats have ammunition to throw again, but additionally as a result of seniors don’t appear significantly threatened by the concept that increasing insurance coverage to others may jeopardize their very own protection.

In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September 2017, seniors have been no extra doubtless than youthful respondents to say they thought well being care prices, high quality and availability would worsen if the U.S. instituted a nationwide well being plan. Fewer than a 3rd of respondents total, in addition to these 65 and older, stated they thought nationwide medical health insurance would worsen their very own protection. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially impartial program of the muse.)

In addition, pollster Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, stated in a convention name with reporters Oct. 15 that the assaults on Medicare-for-all had not proven up in polls but. But he stated he’s skeptical of how a lot impression they may have.

“The basic idea of expanded health care in America is generally pretty popular,” he stated.

Still, Harvard’s Blendon stated he understands why Republicans are attempting: “Seniors are critical for Republicans to maintain their majority.”

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story will be republished totally free (details).

KHN’s protection associated to ageing and bettering care of older adults is supported partly by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Julie Rovner:”>, @jrovner

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