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Joe Biden Escapes from the Attic… Again

The VP on the loose in Boca Raton, scaring seniors and promising a free colonoscope in every pot.

By 10.1.12

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Last Friday, the Obama re-election campaign allowed America's crazy uncle to get in front of a group of Florida seniors and frighten the bejabbers out of them with horror stories about the evil designs Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have on Medicare and Social Security. As his entourage cringed in the background, Biden brayed as only he can bray. In addition to repeating long-ago-debunked claims about the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan and a new stretcher about a fictitious GOP plot to tax Social Security, the Vice President attempted to reassure his audience that ObamaCare can siphon $716 billion from Medicare while simultaneously improving their benefits. He accomplished his last feat by unilaterally adding a new benefit to Medicare -- the free colonoscopy.

Biden told the crowd: "President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare…if you conclude you need a colonoscopy…you don't have to pay a co-pay for that." Many conservatives have pounced on this claim as if it were merely evidence that Obamacare is a vote-buying scheme. But the real problem is that it is a lie. While "reform" did add some wellness benefits to Medicare, the insinuation that colonoscopies are now free is absurd. If, for example, a screening colonoscopy actually finds a problem, the patient will almost always have some out-of-pocket expense. As Medicare puts it, "If a screening test results in the biopsy or removal of a lesion or growth, the procedure is considered diagnostic and you may have to pay coinsurance or a copayment."

Having delivered himself of the "free colonoscopy" whopper, Biden moved on to the latest fictional work of horror created by the script writers of the Obama reelection campaign: "If Gov. Romney's plan goes into effect, it could mean that everyone, every one of you, would be paying more on taxes on your Social Security…The average senior would have to pay $460 a year more in taxes for their Social Security. Ladies and gentlemen, that's…while these guys are…hemorrhaging tax cuts for the super wealthy." This baloney is based on a "study" by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the left-leaning Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, and it amounts to nothing more than speculation based on a variety of assumptions not found in any Romney proposal.

As Arlette Saenz reports, "Romney's plan does not specify that he would achieve such goals by raising taxes on Social Security. When Romney unveiled his plan in 2011, he promised there would be no tax hikes on Social Security benefits." Nonetheless, there was good old Joe, telling the seniors of Boca Raton that Romney was planning to raise taxes on them. The irony here is that Biden himself actually has voted to raise taxes on Social Security, when he voted for President Clinton's 1993 budget, Saenz writes. Oddly, the vice president neglected to mention that vote. The Romney campaign reminded him: "These attacks will backfire when voters learn he has repeatedly supported higher Social Security taxes."

Biden has, however, never been one to let mere facts prevent him from demagoguing an issue. He went on with stretcher after stretcher. Like the rest of the president's accomplices, he continues to repeat the thoroughly debunked claim that Romney and Ryan want to replace Medicare with a voucher system. As I pointed out last week, the researchers at Factcheck.org have failed to find a scrap of evidence that the Republican plan involves vouchers. Nonetheless, Biden assured his audience that he and Obama could be trusted not to "voucherize" Medicare: "Folks, I ask you the rhetorical question: Can you imagine me as vice president, can you imagine the president supporting a plan that would, under any circumstances, would raise the cost for seniors $6,400, your out-of-pocket?"

This bit about the $6,400 increase in out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare patients is another feature of the fictional Romney-Ryan "voucher" program, and it is, as Biden and his fellow demagogues know perfectly well, another lie. As it happens, the people at Factcheck.org have also been forced to shoot down this claim after it was repeated over and over again at the Democratic National Convention. They wrote:

We once again heard misrepresentations of the Medicare plan that Romney and Paul Ryan have proposed. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and labor leader Mary Kay Henry both said the plan would cost seniors $6,400, but that's a reference to an outdated Ryan plan, not the more generous one he, and Romney, now back.

The truly Orwellian feature of Biden's "Mediscare" speech in Boca Raton, and speeches by other Obama administration officials, is that it is their own policies that should frighten seniors. Obamacare created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a fifteen member panel of unelected bureaucrats whose primary mission is to ration health care to Medicare patients, and over time, Obama, Biden and their cronies are becoming less and less reticent about their plans to save money by denying care to the elderly. Just a couple of weeks ago, a former Obama administration official wrote a New York Times column whose first four words were, "We need death panels." It goes on to advocate "allocating health care resources more prudently -- rationing, by its proper name…"

That costs can be controlled without pulling the plug on Granny has never occurred to these people, despite the success in the Medicare Part D program, whose free market innovations actually worked. Unfortunately, in the minds of Biden and his boss, "cost control" means government-imposed rationing of care. If they succeed in scaring seniors into voting against Romney and Ryan with lies like those told by crazy old Joe last Friday, seniors will rue the day they fell for the scam -- if they live.

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About the Author

David Catron is a health care revenue cycle expert who has spent more than twenty years working for and consulting with hospitals and medical practices. He has an MBA from the University of Georgia and blogs at Health Care BS.