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Thursday, July 6, 2017
MRC Pushes Fake News That GOP Health Care Bill Doesn't Cut Medicaid
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is so loyal to President Trump -- remember the big flip from last summer and the Mercer money that may have driven it -- that it will go the fake-news route to defend him and the Republicans who support him.

The MRC's big talking point on the GOP Senate's health care bill is that, despite what everyone is saying, it doesn't cut Medicaid. Nicholas Fondacaro laid out the talking point in a June 25 post: "The Senate bill doesn’t cut Medicaid, it only slows down the rate of spending growth by the federal government. In fact, the bill pegs spending growth to inflation so it’s almost guaranteed to go up every year."

Of course, slowing down the rate of spending growth is still a cut if Medicaid is rising faster than inflation, which it is. Fondacaro, doesn't mention that, though.

The MRC has been religiously repeating the talking point ever since:

  • Fondacaro complained on June 26 about a media report containing "fake news about the bill drastically slashing Medicaid."
  • Alex Xenos grumbled: "In reality, the plan cuts the rate of growth in Medicaid spending. Only Democrats would consider that an actual cut."
  • Fondacaro again whined that "ABC and NBC both continued to push the fake news story of there being massive cuts to Medicaid in the bill during their evening broadcasts. That’s despite the fact that the CBO report itself disproves their lie.
  • Scott Whitlock dutifully insisted that "In reality, the bill simply slows the rate of growth."
  • Kevin Baker had a lengthy regurgitation of the talking point that somehow included much more wiggle room: "The line of attack by the liberal media that supposed "cuts" to Medicaid in the Republican health care bill will destroy health care is ludicrous. In reality, there are no "cuts" to anything. The proposal would actually increase Medicaid spending, but at a slower rate over time than under ObamaCare. Furthermore, there is nothing in the legislation preventing our esteemed elected officials from revising such spending as time goes on, so the idea that Medicaid itself will undergo any sort of profound change is unlikely at best."
  • Fondacaro once more: "the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) continued to spread the fake news that Senate Republicans were cutting Medicaid despite the Congressional Budget Office’s report the proved otherwise."
  • Baker returned to complain about "the narrative that the fictional Medicaid "cuts" in the GOP health care bill would devastate the poor."

Like a lot of arguments the MRC makes, the claim that the GOP bill doesn't cut Medicaid because funding doesn't decrease is biased, narrowly tailored and ludicrous.

The Washington Post's Philip Bump explained how dishonest this argument is when it was voiced by White House aide Kellyanne Conway, pointing out that both House and Senate GOP health care bills would cut federal funding to states to fund Medicaid expansion, which would effectively be a cut because cash-strapped states are unlikely to fil the gap on their own:

Conway argues that the Republican measures give “governors more flexibility” in allocating Medicaid funding, thanks to another change in the bills, which would switch how the government pays for Medicaid by moving to a per capita compensation system. But the reduction in federal funding as above would also mean states would face significantly higher cost, even while, as Conway argues, it’s already the case that “states are having a very difficult time meeting the bills.”

Bump concluded:

Conway’s argument is that decreasing federal spending and slowing the amount spent per patient over the long term is not a “cut” to the program, since the program still exists and since there will still be funding. That’s the political goal, to allow Republicans [like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) who made the case on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday] to argue that vulnerable Medicaid patients won’t be at risk because funding will continue and because the Obamacare expansion mostly added people who were healthier. But reducing funding to states means that states will have to either pay more or decide how and where to focus Medicaid enrollment to reduce costs.

In other words, because federal funding for Medicaid is decreasing from current levels, Medicaid will have to be cut in some manner from its current state.

It appears the MRC is putting out fake news -- which if loves to bash the "liberal media" for allegedly engaging in.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT

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