On Fox & Friends, Dick Morris falsely claimed that the “Medicare Advisory Board” in the revised Senate health care bill will “be saying no, you can't give this person a hip replacement, they are too old, and no, you can't treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available.” In fact, the bill states that the Advisory Board's recommendations “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits.”
Morris falsely claimed Medicare Advisory Board will deny “a hip replacement,” treatment for colon cancer
Morris: Medicare Advisory Board will “be saying no, you can't give this person a hip replacement, they are too old, and no, you can't treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available.” From the December 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): It seems to me if you were in communications with the House Republicans or the Senate Republicans, you would just have a press conference. For your information, in this 2,000-page bill, there is going to be Medicare -- there is going to be a Medicare Advisory Board. For your information, there is going to be health care exchanges, which many Democrats are on the record saying is like a way of getting into a public option, and a way of getting government control over insurance. It doesn't seem like -- I see the Republicans being angry, but I haven't seen a simple, line by line, what this 2,000 pages will mean for the average person.
MORRIS: Yeah. It's hard because it's just been printed, and many of the details I don't know and many of the members don't know. The Medical Advisory --
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): But they're going to vote for it anyway.
MORRIS: They're going to vote against it or for it, that's right. The Medicare Advisory Board you speak about is a particularly dangerous thing, because it's going to set up for Medicare only, for the elderly only, protocols and standards of care where they are going to be saying no, you can't give this person a hip replacement, they are too old, and no, you can't treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available. I know it increases the chance of his dying, but it's beyond the cost parameters that we are prepared to allow. And this will be done by this federal board, which is really the death panel that Sarah Palin was talking about. That's an oversimplification, but the basic concept isn't far wrong.
In fact, the Advisory Board is not Palin's “death panel,” and the provision prohibits “modifying eligibility or benefits”
Senate bill: Advisory Board proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits.” From Section 3403 of the Senate health care bill, “Independent Medicare Advisory Board”:
(ii) The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.
CBO: Advisory Board provision “would place a number of limitations on the actions available to the board, including a prohibition against modifying eligibility or benefits.” In its December 19 analysis of the Senate bill incorporating the manager's amendment, CBO stated that Congress could block the Advisory Board's recommendations and that the provision establishing the board “would place a number of limitations on the actions available to the board, including a prohibition against modifying eligibility or benefits”:
The legislation also would establish an Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would be required, under certain circumstances, to recommend changes to the Medicare program to limit the rate of growth in that program's spending. Those recommendations would go into effect automatically unless blocked by subsequent legislative action. Such recommendations would be required if the Chief Actuary for the Medicare program projected that the program's spending per beneficiary [in fiscal years 2015-2019] would grow more rapidly than a measure of inflation (the average of the growth rates of the consumer price index for medical services and the overall index for all urban consumers). The provision would place a number of limitations on the actions available to the board, including a prohibition against modifying eligibility or benefits, so its recommendations probably would focus on:
- Reductions in subsidies for non-Medicare benefits offered by MedicareAdvantage plans; and
- Changes to payment rates or methodologies for services furnished in the fee-for-servicesector by providers other than hospitals, physicians, hospices, andsuppliers of durable medical equipment that is offered through competitivebidding.
On December 20, CBO noted that "[a]fter 2019, however, the threshold for Medicare spending growth that would trigger recommendations for spending reductions would be higher -- specifically, the rate of increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita plus 1 percentage point."
Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board is not the provision Palin called a “death panel” earlier this year. Although Palin has now asserted in a December 22 Facebook post that the Medicare Advisory Board is a “rationing 'death panel,' ” Palin's claim in an August 7 post to her Facebook page that “my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' ” referred to the debunked myth that the House bill would require end-of-life counseling, as Media Matters for America has noted. The provision Palin pointed to only required Medicare to fund voluntary counseling sessions, and Palin's claim was widely dismissed.
Morris also falsely suggested the Senate bill will not continue to reduce deficit after 2019
Morris: Bill contains “10 years of taxing and six years of spending ... so over the 10 years it would be deficit-neutral.” From the December 23 edition of Fox & Friends:
MORRIS: Because, if there is final passage, because then the young people are going to start to have to write out $750 checks, and people are going to get notices of premium increases, and the elderly are going to find their Medicare Advantage programs cancelled, and those harms will kick in well before any of the supposed benefits arrive. See, the thing they did is they took 10 years of spending -- 10 years of taxing and six years of spending.
MORRIS: So for four years you just get bad news, and they did that so over the 10 years it would be deficit-neutral.
But CBO projected that deficit reductions would continue after 2019. Contrary to Morris' suggestion that the bill would not be deficit-neutral without including the four years before some proposals take effect, CBO found that the bill will continue to reduce the deficit far beyond 2019. Indeed, CBO's December 19 cost estimate found that the bill yields “a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion” over 10 years, but CBO also estimated on December 20 that the bill will continue to reduce the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window that ends in 2019 “with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP.” CBO also noted that it “has not extrapolated estimates further into the future, because the uncertainties surrounding them are magnified even more,” but it said that “the legislation would probably continue to reduce budget deficits” beyond 2029.