Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania found himself under fire as he defended the Republican Medicaid proposal on Monday’s Morning Joe. Despite his repeated attempts to explain how the bill only curbed the rate of growth in Medicaid and did not cut actual spending, he was incessantly attacked by co-host Joe Scarborough. “Why is it we're going after the poor?” Scarborough exclaimed incredulously.“You've got to start somewhere. This is the biggest one–,” Toomey tried to speak before Scarborough again rudely interjected, “Why are we starting with the poor?”
The full exchange went as follows:
PAT TOOMEY: Joe, you know I've always been concerned about the growth of our entitlement programs. They are driving the fiscal train wreck we're on. Medicaid is the single biggest driver of this. And someone needs to tell me, what is a more responsible reform for a giant out-of-control entitlement program than a slight curb in the rate at which it goes at a point in the distance future?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Why aren't we doing that with Medicare which is just as big of a challenge? Why is it we're going after the poor?
TOOMEY: You've got to start somewhere. This is the biggest one--
SCARBOROUGH: Why are we starting with the poor?
TOOMEY: This is the biggest of the problems, Joe. It is the one that is growing most rapidly. This is contributing 70% of our budget deficit right now. It's the one that's in our lap because of Obamacare. I think we do need to make reforms to Medicare. I've been arguing that we need to make reforms to Social Security. You know that. I've been making this argument since 1988.
SCARBOROUGH: I know you have and you're one of the few that you have been as consistent as a few others of us talking about entitlement reform. I'm just concerned that the one entitlement reform we start with is for the poor. Let me ask what these cuts do to your rural hospitals. What happens if you're in Williams Port, Pennsylvania? What happens if you’re in western Pennsylvania?
TOOMEY: These are cuts in the rate of growth. The rural hospitals are gonna be able to manage this. By the way, some of the important things --
SCARBOROUGH: Have they said that to you, that they're fine? Or are they complaining?
TOOMEY: Some more so and some less so. The reality is there are whole new ways that some of our health care providers are discovering tremendous opportunities for savings. It’s the Geisingers of the world, UPMC, Insurance Independence Blue, Lehigh valley network. Using big data in ways to identify people who will are likely to develop expensive and problematic health concerns, finding ways to intervene early. There's tremendous innovation that can happen if we allow it to happen. But, we also need to put this on a sustainable path and that's what this legislation attempts to do.
Toomey’s point that the Republican health care bill will only cut the growth of Medicaid is supported by the CBO report which draws the same conclusion as seen on the graph below. Remember, the CBO is all-knowing according to the media!
Despite this evidence, Scarborough and his liberal cohorts continued to hype the proposal as ‘cuts’ which will devastate the poor and rural communities. This is both blatantly false and willfully deceiving on their part. A ‘slight curb,’ as phrased by Toomey, does not constitute a ‘cut’ to Medicaid. The irony here is that Republicans are really only doing the bare minimum required to preserve this beloved entitlement, but, apparently, even that is too much for the fiscally schizophrenic media to bear these days.
This biased segment of Morning Joe was brought to you by BP, Reddi-Wip, and Hewlett-Packard.