Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Oh, Andy. How Could You?"

I don't know about you, but I grew up watching "The Andy Griffith Show."" Griffith was a fellow Tar Heel, after all. His show imparted words of wisdom on a regular basis. My 7 and 10 yr old nieces still watch his show on TV Land (along with the Lucille Ball Show).

Yes, the show routinely poked gentle fun at small-town America, allowing us to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. And who could forget what a great parent Sheriff Taylor was, often disciplining young Opie for mistakes made by sending him to his room so he could "think about that thar thing." Oh, yes. A great show, especially for someone growing up in the South.

Heck, we joke even now that we live in Mayberry since we are on an island with not even ONE stoplight. I kid you not. The UPS man's sister in law was my physical therapist, and the postal carrier who retired to rescue animals, would tell me about her vacations. People talk to one another here. Just like Mayberry.

So, imagine my disappointment when I saw the following ad put out by the Obama White House:

As Aunt Bea would say, "Oh, Andy, how could you?"

She's not the only one. FactCheck.Org also has a problem with it, as this article by Brooks Jackson indicates, "Mayberry Misleads On Medicare." It's a sad day for Mayberry, and the country, when the straight-shooting, plain talking "sheriff" is neither one. "Oh, Andy" indeed.

You can read it all here, but here are some of the salient points:
[snip] So how can the Obama administration claim that "guaranteed Medicare benefits will remain the same"? The answer is that the term "guaranteed" is a weasel word — a qualifier that sucks the meaning out of a phrase in the way that weasels supposedly suck the contents out of an egg. It may sound to the casual listener as though this ad is saying that the benefits of all Medicare recipients are guaranteed to stay the same — and that may well be the way the ad’s sponsors wish listeners to hear it. But what the administration is really saying is that only those benefits that are guaranteed in law will remain the same.

There’s even a section in the new law (section 3601) that says: "Nothing in the provisions of, or amendments made by, this Act shall result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits under title XVIII of the Social Security Act" (the title that establishes the Medicare program). Section 3602 says even Medicare Advantage recipients won’t suffer any reduction of "any benefits guaranteed by law."

But here’s the catch: The extra benefits generally offered by Medicare Advantage plans aren’t guaranteed by law. They are offered by private insurance companies as inducements. The companies have been able to offer somewhat more generous packages than traditional, fee-for-service Medicare because the system pays them as much as 40 percent more per patient than it pays for traditional Medicare, according to the chief actuary. The average in 2009 was about 14 percent more, according to the most recent analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, issued in February. But the new law generally eliminates the extra payments in the coming years. Foster, the chief actuary, estimates that federal spending for Medicare Advantage will be reduced by $145 billion over the law’s first decade.[snip]

Wow. So, it seems ol' Andy wasn't quite telling the truth after all, especially when you add in this Wall Street Journal article referenced by Brooks Jackson, "Health Law Augurs Transfer of Funds From Old To Young," by Janet Adamy. Check out this particular tidbit:
[snip] "I'm sure that some of those additional benefits have been nice," Nancy-Ann DeParle, who runs the White House's Office of Health Reform, says of Medicare Advantage plans. "But I think what we have to look at here is what's fair and what's important for the strength of the Medicare program long term."

Stuart Butler, a vice president at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says the White House is misrepresenting the benefits that accrue from Medicare payment cuts. "It uses it to create a new entitlement for a separate group of people rather than strengthening" the program, he says. Moreover, such cuts alone don't pay for the law.

The law will spend $938 billion over a decade, mostly to expand coverage to lower-income Americans. To finance that, there will be $455 billion coming from cuts in government payments to health-care providers that serve patients on Medicare and two other federal programs. The hardest hit—to the tune of $136 billion—will be private insurance companies that run Medicare Advantage plans. [snip]

Oh, you won't believe what all is in that article. I suggest you read the rest. It ain't pretty, but I think the headline already made that point clear. Especially if you are older, that is.

As for the new ad, I'd say that Andy has some "'splaining to do," as Ricky Ricardo used to say. After lying to his fellow senior citizens, he needs to go to his room and "think about that thar thing," and not come down until he understands how wrong lying is. Don't you think?


SFIndie said...

Notice how they say, “guaranteed Medicare benefits will remain the same" rather than "Medicare benefits are guaranteed to remain the same." Didn't The Pretender make a big deal about how important words were???

There are many seniors who cannot afford the additional insurance costs for Medicare Advantage (my mom was one) which can cost anywhere from $200/month (which was for quite minimal additional coverage) to over $600/month. Instead, these seniors are stuck with the basic Medicare coverage which is horrendous and now, with cuts, going to be even worse.

Andy’s got the money to buy as much great insurance he needs. He seems to have forgotten that many many seniors do NOT have the financial resources he has. Shame on you, Andy. Get to your room right now, and don’t come out until you’ve thought long and hard about how bad lying is, and how much it can hurt people.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SF, you nailed it. That is exactly right. The vast majority of senior citizens cannot afford the additional ins. required for even basic coverage. Remember when Obama made a big deal recently of giving $250 back to the seniors? Well, that was a ONE time thing, so when their med costs have risen to more than that a MONTH, just WTH are they supposed to do?? I'll tell you - they pick and choose which meds they can afford.

Yes, Andy needs to think long and hard abt why he would mislead people so. I say he should go without his supper, too, since that's the decision too many seniors have to make now...

Great comment!