Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama hits McCain on Medicare

Barack Obama, continuing to hammer John McCain on healthcare, is launching a new TV ad in battleground states today that warns that the Republican's plan would mean cuts to the existing government health programs for the poor and elderly.

The ad cites a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month that stated: "John McCain would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, a top aide said, in a move that independent analysts estimate could result in cuts of $1.3 trillion over 10 years to the government programs. The Republican presidential nominee has said little about the proposed cuts, but they are needed to keep his health-care plan 'budget neutral,' as he has promised. The McCain campaign hasn't given a specific figure for the cuts, but didn't dispute the analysts' estimate."
Obama has already been criticizing the centerpiece of McCain's plan -- a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and $5,000 for families -- because it would be offset by requiring workers to start including in their taxable income the value of insurance coverage paid by their employers.

"John McCain’s healthcare plan: first we learned he’s going to tax health care benefits to pay for part of it. Now the Wall Street Journal reports John McCain would pay for the rest of his health care plan 'with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid,' " the announcer says.

"Eight hundred and eighty-two billion from Medicare alone," the announcer continues, as images of seniors are shown. "Requiring cuts in benefits, eligibility, or both. John McCain, taxing health benefits, cutting Medicare. We can’t afford John McCain."

Obama plans to piggyback on the ad in a speech this afternoon in Roanoke, Va.

"Senator McCain has been eager to share some details of his healthcare plan – but not all," he is to say, according to prepared remarks released by his campaign. "Like those ads for prescription drugs, you have to read the fine print to learn the full story. First, we found out that he wants to pay for his plan by taxing your health care benefits for the first time in history, just like George Bush. That was bad enough. But the Wall Street Journal recently reported that it’s actually worse than we thought. It turns out, Senator McCain would pay for part of his plan by making drastic cuts in Medicare –$882 billion worth. $882 billion in Medicare cuts to pay for an ill-conceived health care plan, even as Medicare already faces a looming shortfall.

"Now, this should come as no surprise – it’s entirely consistent with Senator McCain’s record during his 26 years in Congress where, time and again, he’s opposed Medicare. In fact, Senator McCain has voted against protecting Medicare 40 times. 40 times, he’s failed to stand up for Medicare. So what would Senator McCain’s cuts mean for Medicare at a time when more and more Americans are relying on it? It would mean a cut of more than 20 percent in Medicare benefits next year. If you count on Medicare, it would mean fewer places to get care, and less freedom to choose your own doctors. You’ll pay more for your drugs, receive fewer services, and get lower quality care. I don’t think that’s right.

"When you’ve worked hard your whole life, and paid into the system, and done everything right, you shouldn’t have the carpet pulled out from under you when you least expect it and can least afford it. Health care shouldn’t be some kind of either-or tradeoff where our seniors get left out in the cold."

"I think every single American has a right to affordable accessible health care. We can strengthen Medicare by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big HMOs in Medicare, and making sure seniors can access home-based care, and letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies for better prices. That’s the kind of change we need."

UPDATE: The McCain campaign issued a response via a statement from senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin:

“Barack Obama’s health care plan is a prescription for economic disaster that is being sold to the American people with the same deception, half-truths and distortions typical of his attacks on John McCain. While Barack Obama complains about any scrutiny of his record whatsoever, the airwaves are flooded with Obama’s lies and distortions about the McCain health care plan -- which according to independent groups would leave middle class Americans better off. Senator Obama refuses to explain his plans to fine firms and parents, and the Wall Street Journal reports ‘the campaign has no plans to answer that question before Election Day on Nov. 4.’ It gets worse: Barack Obama’s secret fine is essentially a small business tax on employment, and during an economic downturn, it’s a risky double-down on economic disaster that leaves hardworking Americans taking the hit.”
Comments (4) Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor October 17, 2008 11:23 AM

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