WaPo, FactCheck agree: Wasserman-Schultz threw truth to the wolves

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, but wound up with egg on her face after her demagoguery on Medicare.  Wasserman-Schultz told Harry Smith that the Republican plan for Medicare was to throw young people “to the wolves,” a claim that two media organizations reject as throwing truth to the wolves.  First, here’s the claim Wasserman-Schultz made on CBS:

“[Republicans] would take the people who are younger than 55 years old today and tell them, ‘You know what? You’re on your own. Go and find private health insurance in the health care insurance market. We’re going to throw you to the wolves, and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for pre-existing conditions,’ ” Wasserman-Schultz told CBS’ Harry Smith. ” ‘We’re going to give you X amount of dollars and you figure it out.’

“These are people who have paid for their whole life into the system,” she added.

FactCheck takes a look at this claim and entirely rejects it:

She is simply wrong to say that the GOP plan would allow insurance companies to “throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for preexisting conditions.”

The Republican plan — dubbed “Path to Prosperity” by its chief architect, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — would make no changes in Medicare for those 55 and older. But it would make significant changes to Medicare for those younger than 55 — just not as described by the Florida Democrat. The plan would provide future beneficiaries with government subsidies to purchase health insurance through a Medicare exchange set up by the government.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler gives Wasserman-Schultz three Pinocchios for her demagoguery and calls her claim “bogus”:

Neither of those claims are true. The system as envisioned by Republicans would operate much like the Medicare prescription drug plan currently does. The government would not give people a check or anything like that; the government would handle the funds, just as they do under the drug plan. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said when it examined the plan, “The premium support payments would go directly from the government to the plans that people selected.”

Meanwhile, different plans approved by Medicare would compete for business, as under the drug plan. Moreover, the GOP proposal specifically says that to participate in the Medicare exchange, insurance companies would have to accept all retirees. …

There are certainly details in the GOP plan, which has not been drafted as actual legislation, that need to be addressed. But Wasserman Schultz is jumping to conclusions — not to mention scaremongering metaphors — to describe provisions in the GOP Medicare plan that just do not exist.

For the piece de resistance, the DNC hurried to corroborate Wasserman-Schultz’s statement with expert testimony from Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute.  The only problem is that Cannon’s testimony says nothing of the kind.  In fact, when reached by the Post, Cannon called Wasserman-Schultz’s argument “high-octane idiocy”:

We checked with Michael Cannon, director of health policy at the libertarian Cato Institute, one of the experts cited by Sevugan as backing up Wasserman Schultz’s claim. Cannon described her comment as “high-octane idiocy.”

“Ryan’s plan says that insurance companies could not turn away seniors.  I’m not sure whether that means only (A) that insurers must issue a policy to all applicants (i.e., guaranteed issue) or whether Ryan’s plan would go further and (B) prevent insurers from charging sick enrollees more (i.e., price controls),” Cannon said. “I hope Ryan would not include such price controls, but I see hints that that’s where he’s leaning. If so, then the Ryan plan would include the very government guarantee that the DNC is complaining isn’t there.”

High-octane idiocy — it’s the perfect description of the Democrats and their Mediscare campaign in 2011.