A couple of weeks ago, Kellyanne Conway denied that the Senate health care bill cut Medicaid. “These are not cuts to Medicaid,” she said. “This slows the rate for the future.”
This is the lamest, tiredest trope imaginable, and it’s flat-out false. In inflation-adjusted dollars—the only kind that honest people use—CBO estimates that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid spending by about 18 percent over the next decade. As a result, 15 million fewer people will receive Medicaid by 2026. That’s a cut by anyone’s definition.
But Ramesh Ponnuru isn’t concerned about this. Instead, he’s mad at PolitiFact for saying that the Senate bill “rolls back who is eligible”—i.e., that it kills the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare. That’s not quite right: according to CBO’s analysis, the Senate bill gradually reduces the federal share of payment for Medicaid expansion from 90 percent to 57 percent. Because of this, “CBO expects that no additional states would expand eligibility.”
This may seem like a thin distinction, but Ponnuru is so mad about it that he brought it up again today. “So far, no correction,” he says.
Fine. PolitiFact got something wrong. They should correct the record. But I sure wish conservatives could work up the same level of indignation for an administration that flatly lies about Medicaid and a Republican bill that slashes Medicaid funding so much that it tosses 15 million poor people off the rolls. Instead, they’re busy concocting rickety arguments that Medicaid is “lousy” and then making pie-in-the-sky suggestions that we should use Medicaid money to help the poor buy private insurance instead. But they know perfectly well that’s not an option on offer, and never likely to be in any practical way. It’s just a way of soothing their consciences without any danger of supporting any actual real-world spending.
Life is less about facts and figures than it is about priorities. Over the past few months, conservatives have pretty clearly shown us theirs.