Speaker Boehner Won't Face Up To GOP's Medicaid Cuts

June 29, 2011 12:19 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Last night, in typical echo chamber fashion, Sean Hannity invited Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to rebut President Obama's assertion that needy children will have to "fend for themselves" under the House GOP budget, telling the speaker that "That's not what's in the plan." In agreeing that the president is a liar, however, Boehner jumped to defend his party's scheme for Medicare — even though it's their short-sighted plan for Medicaid that's likely to leave disadvantaged kids out in the cold.

"Listen," Boehner said, playing the Very Serious Adult, "Medicare is going bankrupt."

HANNITY: Paul Ryan comes out with a plan because Medicare is going bankrupt, we're now dealing with a really pivotal moment in the American economy. And the president comes out and says about the Ryan plan that kids with autism, Down syndrome and the elderly will have to quote, "fend for themselves." That's not what's in the plan.

BOEHNER: That's not what's in the plan at all. Listen, Medicare is going bankrupt. The Medicare trustees have said, if we don't make changes, this program is going to go bankrupt and benefits are necessarily going to have to be cut. Nobody wants to see seniors' benefits being cut. And so, we've got to do something. OK? They don't like our plan. What's their plan? And frankly, their plan is to do nothing.


Forget that Boehner's misrepresenting the truth about the GOP budget's impact on seniors, and that he's ignoring Democrats' proposals for that program. Hannity and Boehner are eager to avoid talking about the Republican budget's $771 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade. The plan hands Medicaid funding over to states in block grants, so Washington politicians can wash their hands of the ugly choices the states will face in dealing with almost a trillion dollars in cuts to health care for the poor.

Several Republicans boasted to Political Correction earlier this month about how the Medicaid scheme will give states room to innovate, but the chief "innovation" GOP governors are making in Medicaid is to kick poor people off the program. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie thinks a family of three making under $6,000 a year are too flush to deserve Medicaid. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer is looking to drop hundreds of thousands of the neediest in her state off the Medicaid rolls, leading to stories like this one about a man whose Social Security checks pay $12 too much per month to have his heart surgery covered.

It's telling that Boehner and Hannity would rather talk about their party's unpopular push to replace Medicare with undervalued vouchers than about Republican Medicaid innovations.