Breaking News
November 13, 2018 - Entasis Therapeutics Announces Zoliflodacin Phase 2 Results Published in The New England Journal of Medicine
November 13, 2018 - Gene changes driving myopia reveal new focus for drug development
November 13, 2018 - $6 million grant to support study of preeclampsia, atherosclerosis links | News Center
November 13, 2018 - Beneficial gut microbes metabolize high-fiber diet to improve heart health in mouse model
November 13, 2018 - Excessive use of social media through visual postings linked to increase in narcissistic traits
November 13, 2018 - Study finds why obesity both fuels cancer growth and helps immunotherapy to kill tumors
November 13, 2018 - Women prefer and invest more in daughters, while men favor sons
November 13, 2018 - With hospitalization losing favor, judges order outpatient mental health treatment
November 13, 2018 - Transgenic rat model may provide new insights into cerebral amyloid angiopathy
November 13, 2018 - Study identifies factors tied to greater risk of advanced liver disease in cystic fibrosis patients
November 13, 2018 - Risk of blindness among premature babies with low levels of blood platelets
November 13, 2018 - A new strategy for combatting antibiotic-resistant infections
November 13, 2018 - Study aims to find which outreach method is more effective at improving cancer screening rates
November 13, 2018 - Insufficient sleep duration linked with unhealthy lifestyle profile among children
November 13, 2018 - IIASA researchers introduce new, simple measure for human wellbeing
November 13, 2018 - Scientists examine FCMs containing silver nanoparticles
November 13, 2018 - Failed DNA repair triggers chromosomal chaos
November 13, 2018 - Food insecurity during pregnancy linked to severity of neonatal abstinence syndrome
November 13, 2018 - Majority of Americans are concerned about health threat posed by antibiotic resistance
November 13, 2018 - Addition of Elotuzumab Ups PFS in Refractory Multiple Myeloma
November 13, 2018 - Study finds women with pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting use marijuana more
November 13, 2018 - Lethal heart rhythm more likely to be found in patients with common heart failure
November 13, 2018 - Study provides new clues to origin and development of multiple sclerosis
November 13, 2018 - Climate change could pose threat to male fertility
November 13, 2018 - Researchers discover how mitochondria deploy a powerful punch against disease-causing bacteria
November 13, 2018 - AHA: Traumatic Childhood Could Increase Heart Disease Risk in Adulthood
November 13, 2018 - Feeling the Burn? | NIH News in Health
November 13, 2018 - Women’s birth canals in Kenya, Korea, Kansas not the same: study
November 13, 2018 - Fecal microbiota transplantation effective against ICI-associated colitis
November 13, 2018 - New physical activity guidelines released that urge people to “move more”
November 13, 2018 - Angiotensin receptor blockers improve sodium excretion in blacks
November 13, 2018 - New project seeks to address alarming injury rate in youth footballers
November 13, 2018 - Fish oil or omega 3 fatty acid supplements can prevent heart attacks finds study
November 13, 2018 - The Human Heart-in-a-Jar That Could One Day Replace Animal Testing
November 13, 2018 - Treat patients’ partners without a doctor visit
November 13, 2018 - Belgian beer landscape mapped using scientific insights
November 13, 2018 - ‘Master key’ gene has links to both ASD and schizophrenia
November 13, 2018 - Gladstone scientists gain new insights into the aging brain
November 13, 2018 - Drug therapy can improve outcomes for acutely ill heart patients
November 13, 2018 - Three landmark studies provide better understanding of sudden cardiac arrest
November 13, 2018 - Cholesterol control revised in the latest AHA/ACC guidelines
November 13, 2018 - Vulnerable young teenagers urgently need better sex education, say researchers
November 13, 2018 - Breakthrough research reveals how deadly pneumococcus avoids immune defenses
November 13, 2018 - Researchers discover possible path forward in preventing cancers tied to two viruses
November 13, 2018 - Wishes can help pediatric patients to get better over time
November 13, 2018 - Janssen Reports Positive Topline Results for FLAIR Phase 3 Study of a Novel, Long Acting Injectable Two-Drug Regimen for the treatment of HIV-1
November 13, 2018 - Experimental compound reduces Gulf War illness-like behavior in mice
November 13, 2018 - Small-stature in rainforest populations may be linked to cardiac adaptations
November 13, 2018 - Study shows how pneumococci challenge the immune system
November 13, 2018 - Simple cysts can be safely ignored, study finds
November 13, 2018 - First fully personalized tissue implant engineered from patient’s own materials and cells
November 13, 2018 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Carboplatin and Either Paclitaxel or Nab-Paclitaxel for the First-Line Treatment of Patients with Metastatic Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
November 13, 2018 - Scientists take big step toward finding non-addictive painkiller
November 13, 2018 - Diabetes medication reduces risk of heart failure hospitalization
November 13, 2018 - Achieving high follow-up rates for violently injured patient population is feasible
November 13, 2018 - Shortage of specific gene ‘silencing’ molecules linked with pediatric low-grade gliomas
November 13, 2018 - Abx-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae Tied to Clinical Failure in UTI
November 13, 2018 - US approves first new type of flu drug in 2 decades
November 13, 2018 - Is zinc the link to how we think? Some evidence, and a word of warning
November 13, 2018 - Dispelling taboos, Michelle Obama talks IVF and miscarriage
November 13, 2018 - Medical experts discuss future challenges of healthcare at HSMA’s inaugural conference
November 13, 2018 - Growth and spread of deadly eye tumor suppressed in cells, animals
November 12, 2018 - Study finds huge shortfall in use of home-based medical care by frail seniors
November 12, 2018 - Cocaine Cut With Anti-Worming Drug, Levamisole, May Cause Brain Damage
November 12, 2018 - Obese mice lose a third of their fat using a natural protein
November 12, 2018 - Behind many a Parkinson’s case lurks a mutation in a gene called LRRK2 — why?
November 12, 2018 - Drug with fish oil cuts risk of heart attack, stroke, study finds
November 12, 2018 - Mild exposure to single blast can induce meaningful pathogenic effects, study shows
November 12, 2018 - Miniature pacemakers aim to make heart procedures for infants less invasive, more efficient
November 12, 2018 - Treating pre-cancerous stem cells at early stage could be key to preventing bowel cancer
November 12, 2018 - Kawasaki disease triggered by a combination of factors
November 12, 2018 - Optibrium and University of Nottingham Collaborate on Innovative Teaching Programme
November 12, 2018 - RNA defects linked to multiple myeloma progression in high risk patients
November 12, 2018 - Science is on trial – and we need doctors to provide the defense
November 12, 2018 - Salk researchers receive $19.2 million to unravel mysteries of age-related cognitive decline
November 12, 2018 - KE Eye Centers offer new solution for patients with myopia and astigmatism
November 12, 2018 - Trumpeted new Medicare Advantage benefits will be hard for seniors to find
November 12, 2018 - Biogen and Eisai Announce Presentation of Detailed Analyses from the Phase 1b Long-Term Extension Study of Aducanumab at Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD)
November 12, 2018 - Scientists reveal new cystic fibrosis treatments work best in inflamed airways
November 12, 2018 - Hands-Only CPR training kiosks can teach life-saving skills in just minutes
GOP’s latest campaign punch on health care relies on classic hook: Medicare

GOP’s latest campaign punch on health care relies on classic hook: Medicare

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Once again, Medicare is front and center in this fall’s campaigns.

Democrats throughout the election season have been hammering Republicans over votes and lawsuits that would eliminate insurance protections for preexisting conditions for consumers.

But now Republicans are working to change the health care conversation with a tried-and-true technique used by both parties over the years: telling seniors their Medicare coverage may be in danger.

It’s not yet clear, however, whether these dependable voters are responding to the warning.

Republicans charge that Democrats’ support for expanding Medicare would threaten the viability of the program for the seniors who depend on 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.”

In a speech to the National Press Club on Oct. 8, House Speaker Paul Ryan said almost exactly the same thing. “Democrats call it ‘Medicare-for-all,’ because it sounds good, but in reality, it actually ends Medicare in its current form,” Ryan said.

It’s a sentiment being expressed by Republicans up and down the ballot. In New Jersey, where Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber is running for an open U.S. House seat, he enlisted his elderly 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 analyst Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute told PolitiFact that suggesting Medicare-for-all would disrupt current enrollees’ coverage is a “horrible mischaracterization of the proposal.” Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column noted that a leading proposal “in theory would expand benefits for seniors.”

Furthermore, in New Jersey, Webber’s Democratic opponent, Mikie Sherrill, is not one of the many Democrats who have specifically endorsed the idea of Medicare-for-all. In fact, how to assure health coverage for all Americans remains a point of contention among Democrats. They are far from united on the topic of expanding Medicare.

But Republicans have pushed the issue this fall, said Harvard public health professor and polling expert Robert Blendon, because “people over 60 are very high-turnout voters,” particularly in non-presidential election years like 2018.

Issues involving Medicare and Social Security can motivate those older voters even more, said 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 often a rallying cry for politicians from both parties. And it can be critical in both presidential and off-year elections.

In 1996, Democrats in general, and President Bill Clinton in particular, campaigned on the early GOP attempts to rein in Medicare spending. Republicans coined the term “Mediscare” to describe Democrats’ attacks. But in the 2010 midterm contests, just after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans zoomed in on the billions of dollars of Medicare payment reductions to health providers to help pay for the rest of the law, sparking protests against Democrats around the country.

The irony is that after Republicans regained control of the House in that election, Ryan, then head of the House Budget Committee, opted to call for a repeal of everything in the ACA except the Medicare reductions the GOP had so strongly campaigned against.

Democrats in 2018 have hammered back, noting that both Trump and the GOP Congress have proposed even more cuts in Medicare and that under Republican leadership the insolvency date of the Medicare trust fund has gotten closer.

According to Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also misstepped when, in an interview with Bloomberg News, he blamed higher deficit numbers on Medicare and other entitlement programs rather 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 said.

That came after Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested that the administration will push for larger 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,” said a statement from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top 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 talking points, it is unclear whether this year’s GOP attacks on Democrats over Medicare will work. That is not just because Democrats have ammunition to throw back, but also because seniors don’t seem particularly threatened by the idea that expanding insurance to others could jeopardize their own coverage.

In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in September 2017, seniors were no more likely than younger respondents to say they thought health care costs, quality and availability would get worse if the U.S. instituted a national health plan. Fewer than a third of respondents overall, as well as those 65 and older, said they thought national health insurance would worsen their own coverage. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

In addition, pollster Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, said in a conference call with reporters Oct. 15 that the attacks on Medicare-for-all had not shown up in polls yet. But he said he’s skeptical of how much impact they could have.

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

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

KHN’s coverage related to aging and improving care of older adults is supported in part by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles