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Entries in Medicaid (12)

Monday
Dec192011

Ron Paul Attacked for Views on Health Care

Alex Wong/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Ron Paul’s views on health care came under fire Monday night at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, where his position on eliminating Medicaid was met with open hostility from the audience.

Paul has called for the eventual elimination of Medicare and Medicaid and has suggested that charity hospitals should pick up the slack for the uninsured. That view got one woman in Manchester up in arms.

“Thirty three percent of the children in the U.S. are on Medicaid and another 10 percent are uninsured,” the woman said. “You have offered charity by doctors as a solution to this. Do you really think that 43 percent of America’s children will be taken care of by charity?”

Paul said that his current budget preserves the program, but it would eventually be phased out because of the unsustainable cost. Paul added that when he worked in a charity hospital in the 1960s nobody was turned away.

“I really want to promote these medical savings accounts so people can put their money aside and get it off their taxes, and buy their own insurance and pay cash to their doctors,” Paul said.

As the congressman was finishing his answer, another woman in the audience shouted, “What about the 43 percent?”

Paul, seemingly taken off guard, shot back, “You mean when? Right now?”

“I described this transition,” Paul responded over the voice of the woman.

“Why not look at how the country looked before 1965. Maybe it wouldn’t cost so much,” Paul said.

Paul’s voice then picked up as he stared at the woman and added, “It sounds like you’re cold hearted, you don’t care about people.”

“It’s all going down the tubes if we don’t do something about it too soon,” Paul said.

This isn’t the first time Paul was questioned about his views on health care. At a recent GOP debate, Paul was asked a hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated.

“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody … ”

The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the congressman’s sentence.

After a pause, Paul was asked, “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted, “Yeah!”

Paul, a doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said that when he got out of medical school in the 1960s “the churches took care of them.”

“We never turned anybody away from the hospital,” he said. “We’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves or assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. That’s the reason the cost is so high.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec162011

As Dems Pounce, Romney Tries to Explain ‘Entitlement’ Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Aboard a charter campaign flight with a gaggle of reporters, Mitt Romney tried to clarify remarks he’d made earlier Friday that seemed to suggest he didn’t fully understand the differences between health care entitlement programs, saying he’d exaggerated.

At a steel mill in Sioux City, Iowa, Friday morning, Romney was discussing publicly supported health insurance programs when he said, “You wonder what Medicaid is, those that are not in all this government stuff."

“You know, I have to admit, I didn’t know all the differences between these things before I got into government,” Romney said. “And then I got into it and understand that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large.”

The Democratic National Committee pounced immediately, using Romney’s remarks to try to suggest, again, that  he is out of touch with middle-class Americans.

“One has to wonder how Mitt Romney thinks he can represent American workers, their families and seniors when his concern for the poor and the middle-class comes across like an afterthought,” said DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a written statement.

But hours after the event, Romney tried to explain what he’d meant to reporters, saying that his comment was a self-deprecating attempt intended to poke fun. He said that while he may not have known the “intricacies” that made the programs different, he did understand their contrasting purposes: Medicare is a government health program for the elderly, while Medicaid is a health care program for the poor.

Romney also highlighted his previous experience working for health care consulting firms.

Romney’s campaign spokeswoman added that Friday’s attacks were the “latest chapter in the ‘kill Mitt Romney’ series.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Embattled Obama Medicare Chief Steps Aside

Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The embattled acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, will step down from his post on Dec. 2 after Republicans succeeded in blocking his confirmation in the Senate, the White House said Wednesday.  

President Obama nominated a new appointee, deputy CMS director and former Virginia Health Department chief Marilyn Tavenner, to take Berwick’s place. She’ll assume the role if confirmed by the Senate.

The Berwick position has become a lightning rod for the partisan debate over the new health care law, since whoever heads the agency will play a key role in overseeing implementation of some of the law’s provisions.

Some Republicans opposed Berwick, 65, because of his expressed support for government-run health care programs. They also accused him of supporting “rationing” of health care services, a charge Berwick has denied.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov052011

Romney's Entitlement Programs Plan Similar to Ryan's Plan

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney focused his campaign on explaining to voters how his fiscal policy will breach the budget gap and will include making sweeping changes to federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Delivering remarks on Friday at the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" in the nation's capital, Romney laid out his three-pronged plan to reduce spending by $500 billion per year in 2016 to achieve what he says will be a "simpler, smaller and smarter" government.

First debuted in Exeter, N.H., on Thursday evening, Romney's speech explained how if he was elected, would, eliminate and cut some programs, send others back to the states, and improve government productivity and efficiency.

"We need to turn Medicaid back to the states and allow them to craft the health care solutions that suit their citizens best," said Romney.

Senior advisors to the Romney campaign say that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid would be preserved under Romney's plan. Medicaid would still exist, but so would other choices. The current Medicare plan would be made into a premium support system, according to aides, that would allow seniors a fixed-amount of money to purchase health insurance.

The campaign acknowledged that the premium support system is in line with Rep. Paul Ryan's plan, but said the difference between the two lies in Romney’s allowance for the traditional Medicare choice to be available to seniors.

Social Security would also remain under the Romney plan, but the age of retirement would gradually rise to "promote longevity." How that age would rise, or how fast, was not specified by the Romney campaign. The growth of benefits for higher-income retirees would also be slowed under Romney's plan.

"These ideas will give tomorrow's seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their health care today," said Romney."The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice and innovation – rather than bureaucracy, stagnation and bankruptcy. Our path for the future of Social Security and Medicare is honesty and security. Theirs is demagoguery and deception."

"The plan I propose to make government simpler, smaller and smarter represents the biggest fundamental change to the federal government in modern history," he said. "It is a change we must make if the words 'full faith and credit of the United States' are to mean anything at all."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ryan applauded Romney’s plan, saying, "Look at what he put out! This is a great development. It shows that the elusive adult conversation is taking place, but all on one side."

The audience reaction in Washington, D.C., was notably muted compared to the one received by Romney in New Hampshire less than 24 hours before. The greatest round of applause from the group of conservative activists came when Romney said the "easiest cut" he'd make would be to Obama's health care plan.

The Obama campaign promptly released a statement responding to Romney's plan calling it a "carbon copy of the House Republicans' budget."

"It would wipe out investments essential to creating jobs and promoting growth and would leave millions of older Americans to fend for themselves by privatizing Medicare," wrote Ben LaBolt, the press secretary for Obama for America.

"The fundamental challenge of our time is how we rebuild our economy so that hard work and responsibility are rewarded and that economic security is restored for the middle class," LaBolt said. "Mitt Romney's proposal takes us in exactly the opposite direction: It places a great burden on the middle class and the elderly, and instead of asking all Americans to do their fair share, it continues to offer special breaks for large corporations, millionaires and billionaires."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

Obama Campaign Sees Class Divide in Romney Deficit Plan

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As Mitt Romney rolls out his plan to curb the federal budget deficit, the Obama campaign is honing its election narrative based on a clear class divide: by warning the Republican’s economic plan would devastate the middle class while lining the pockets of the rich.

In a memo to reporters, Obama for America policy director James Kvaal said the Romney plan, which the former governor previewed in a speech Thursday night, would “end Medicare,” impose “deep cuts” to education and infrastructure spending, and enact tax cuts that would largely benefit millionaire families and corporations.

“While a balanced, responsible approach to reducing the deficit is needed, Romney will not ask everyone to contribute their fair share,” Kvaal wrote.  ”As a result, his plan requires deep spending cuts across government, everywhere outside of defense spending.”

Obama also favors spending cuts, including some “modest adjustments” to entitlement programs, but only if coupled with tax hikes on wealthier Americans making more than $200,000 a year.

Emphasizing the contrast between President Obama and Republicans on taxes and spending has been a key objective for Democrats, who see a path to victory in 2012 if the electorate is acutely aware of the tangible trade-offs at stake.

Underscoring the campaign’s focus on the GOP frontrunner, Kvaal’s memo repeatedly invoked the name of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., whose austere and controversial budget plan has become a political prop in arguments on both sides of the aisle.

Polls show much of the concern with Ryan’s plan centers on proposed changes to Medicare, one of the primary drivers of the federal budget deficit.  Under the proposal, for which Romney has voiced support, the federal government would provide subsidies to seniors through the states to help them purchase private health insurance plans.

“I’d like to take some of these programs like Medicaid and take the dollars the federal government has been spending and give those back to states and let states craft the programs in the ways they think best to care for their own poor,” Romney said Thursday night in Exeter, N.H.

Democrats believe that vision will be a non-starter among elderly voters, who are worried about their financial security and health care costs now more than ever before. Republicans in turn have accused Dems of using "Mediscare" tactics -- including President Obama's own claims in April that the Republican budget "ends Medicare as we know it" -- to try to scare up Democrat votes.

Romney, “would cut taxes for the most fortunate Americans at the same time he makes reckless cuts to the very programs that help strengthen and build the middle class and provide security to seniors, children with disabilities and the most vulnerable Americans who are working harder and harder to make ends meet,” Kvaal claimed.

For his part, the former Massachusetts governor says the government has a “moral responsibility” to balance the budget through cuts alone.  He is expected to lay out additional details of his deficit reduction plan in a speech Friday at the Americans for Prosperity convention in Washington.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Conservative Provocateur James O’Keefe Targets Ohio Medicaid Office

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Investigators in Ohio are looking into allegations that some county Medicaid workers advised men posing as Russian drug dealers how to get government health care benefits.

Conservative activist James O’Keefe posted a video on his Project Veritas website Monday that shows two men presenting themselves at the offices of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as Russian drug dealers.

A Franklin County case worker appears to advise the men to describe their occupation as "babysitting" and tells them their homes will not be searched as part of their Medicaid application.  The woman also tells the men she "just wouldn't mention" the sports car they imported for $800,000 when they fill out their application, adding "You didn’t hear it from me."

When the two men state they need an abortion for an underage sister who performs sexual favors for their drug clients, the state worker refers them to Planned Parenthood.  The video also features footage from meetings with a second case worker and audio from a phone conversation with a third.

Politico.com reports Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, called the video "extremely troubling" and said the matter was under investigation.

Johnson further stated that the conversations were not part of a formal benefits process, which requires proof of U.S. citizenship, and that some of the issues the video raises "would have eventually come to light in the application process."

Johnson also stated the staffers involved were all county employees, not state workers, but added, "Should the video turn out to be accurate, we would hope the counties would at the very least discipline these workers."

O’Keefe has previously targeted organizations including Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and NPR by using hidden cameras to record conversations. In the past, he exposed Planned Parenthood workers who advised O'Keefe and his associates how they could legally be provided abortion and birth control services to underaged prostitutes. The ACORN sting featured some employees advising O'Keefe -- dressed like a pimp, accompanied by a scantily-dressed associate "playing" a hooker -- on how he could dodge taxes for a fictitious prostitution ring. In NPR's case, former executive Ron Schiller was caught on tape blasting Republicans and the Tea Party as unintelligent racists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May272011

McConnell: Medicare Has to Be Part of Deficit Reduction Deal

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate's top Republican Mitch McConnell on Friday said he would not vote for any eventual deficit reduction deal if it does not address Medicare, and he shrugged off the GOP's defeat earlier this week in the NY-26 special election.

"I think that we will have done something significant to alter the trajectory long-term on Medicare well before the elections. So we don't know what the issues are going to be in next year's elections. It’s a year and a half from now," McConnell said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

"I think that drawing a whole lot of conclusions about a three-way race in New York a year and a half before the election is -- I don't want to put you down there -- but it's kind of foolish," he told a reporter a few minutes later. "A lot will have happened between now and the fall of 2012."

McConnell, who warned that he will not vote for any debt reduction deal that fails to address Medicare, hit out at Democrats for failing to unveil a budget plan that addresses entitlement programs.

"When do they plan to step up and help us deal with the most predictable crisis in history?" he asked.

To bolster his case, McConnell quoted former President Bill Clinton a whopping five times in Friday's press conference, pointing out that Clinton said neither party should use the NY-26 election to conclude that they should not make any changes to Medicare.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Reaction Streams In to GOP Budget Proposal

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a budget Tuesday for 2012 that would cut government spending by $6.2 trillion more over the next 10 years than the one President Obama released last month.

Ryan says his plan would save money by changing the Medicaid program for the poor, ending corporate welfare, eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.

Even with these cuts, the budget would not be balanced by the year 2021.

To address the long-term problem, the Ryan plan would transform the Medicare program beginning in the year 2022, changing it from a government-run system that pays health bills for seniors into a system under which seniors buy insurance plans subsidized by the federal government.

The Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell praised Ryan’s budget proposal as “a serious and detailed plan” and ripped Democrats for opting to “sit on their hands” and “take potshots at these proposals from the sidelines.”

“Anybody can say that our nation’s problems need to be addressed — but history will show that Chairman Ryan is one of those who actually stepped up to do it. And he should be applauded for that by people of good will on both sides,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Likely GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty responded to Ryan’s proposal Tuesday, saying that thanks to the budget chairman’s leadership, “the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington” and said that President Obama has “failed to lead and make tough choices.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., called Ryan’s plan “thinly veiled.”

“We need to do everything possible to responsibly reduce our debt, but we should do that by holding government accountable and eliminating programs that aren’t working, not by putting all of the burden on middle class families and seniors,” she said.

Stabenow said the Republican budget would “dismantle Medicare for tens of millions of Americans.”

“Pulling the rug out from under seniors who have paid into Medicare and Social Security their entire lives is wrong, and extreme plans that dismantle benefits seniors have earned will not pass the Senate.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Lawmakers Stuck on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Fixes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With all the finger-pointing in Washington this week over the need to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, one thing is clear: it might just be Americans' very sense of entitlement to those programs that's the biggest barrier to getting something done.

The three programs have ballooned to 57 percent of the government budget this year and are widely cited as the most significant contributors to the federal deficit, something nearly all Americans want to see aggressively brought under control.

But while lawmakers from both parties agree on curbing the skyrocketing costs of the programs, few have endorsed a specific way to get that done.

President Obama, who's come under fire for not offering a detailed vision for fixing entitlement spending in his 2012 budget, said Tuesday that he's prepared to work with both parties to "start dealing with that in a serious way."

Republicans, meanwhile, who also haven't united around their own path to reform but promised their forthcoming budget would include a step forward, said they are "waiting for presidential leadership."

Washington's pundits say both sides could come together this year and work something out.  But the "adult conversation" Republicans and Democrats say they're ready to have on entitlements only gets more politically perilous as it gets more specific -- particularly ahead of a looming election battle in 2012.

Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose changes to Medicare benefits and 64 percent oppose changes to Social Security benefits, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University School of Public Health.

At the same time, a majority of Americans oppose tax increases to pay to keep the programs operating at their current levels.

Moreover, heading into a presidential election season, no party or politician wants to be perceived as altering a benefit program that affects some of the most reliable and active American voters -- senior citizens.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

State of the Union 2011: Sidestepped Issues

Photo Courtesy - Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday touched on innovation, education, security and taming the budget deficit through less spending. But there were few details about exactly how he would cut the persistently high national unemployment rate.

Mindful of the long road of negotiations ahead with a Republican-controlled House, the president steered clear of placing a figure on military spending, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"He could have acknowledged the seriousness of the employment situation, including the unemployment rate," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist of Channel Capital Research.

Still, observers say the annual address to Congress is more about setting the tone than filling in all the details.

"The speech provides the president an opportunity to set the tone for a less-polarized Washington, one in which there are prospects of Democrats and Republicans working together to address the nation's problems," said Shanto Iyengar, professor of political science at Stanford University.

While the president did not mention new jobs programs, he emphasized the South Korea trade agreement that will lead to jobs and the importance of investing in education. One specific proposal is a tax credit of $10,000 for four years of college.

Roberts pointed out that Obama avoided talking about the nation's mortgage and foreclosure crisis, currency manipulation disputes with China and international banking stability.

"There was minimal focus on deterioration in the economy, trying to give the appearance of a strong recovery," Roberts said.

The "biggest takeaway for investors" from the speech, according to Anthony Valeri, senior vice president of LPL Research, was a possible decrease in the corporate tax rate. Though he said investors will have to wait and see additional details and "concrete action." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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