The state Democratic Party is criticizing Republican legislative candidates around the state for supporting a proposed Health Care Compact, which envisions a state takeover of all federal health care programs.
Brandon Puttbrese, communications director for the party, said similar news releases on the Republican-led effort in the Legislature are being sent to all districts where Republicans are running.
Here’s the start of the release targeting Rep. Steve Hall, R-Knoxville:
” Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan aren’t the only politicians with a plan to end Medicare as we know it. Earlier this year, Rep. Steve Hall co-sponsored a measure that would eliminate Medicare’s guaranteed benefit for 800,000 Tennessee seniors and force them into TennCare.”
The release then quotes Puttbrese as saying Hall “will try to distort his anti-senior record, but it’s time he explained why he would want to eliminate Medicare’s guaranteed benefit for Tennessee seniors and force them into TennCare… In times like these, extreme entitlement reforms that increase health costs and cut benefits for Tennessee seniors should be off the table.”
“Hall’s compact bill to end Medicare for Tennessee seniors is now his running mate,” Puttbrese said. “It’s a bad idea and it doesn’t matter if it comes from Steve Hall, Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan, Tennessee seniors are going to reject a top-down, anti-senior health plan that leaves them with bigger bills, doctor coupons and empty promises.”
With minor variations, similar releases target other incumbents. Here’s the opening paragraph of one aimed at Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.
“Washington, D.C. isn’t the only place with politicians crafting a plan to end Medicare as we know it. Earlier this year, Rep. John Ragan co-sponsored a measure that would eliminate Medicare’s guaranteed benefit for 800,000 Tennessee seniors and force them into TennCare.”
The Health Care Compact bill (HB0369) passed the Senate last legislative session but failed on the House floor on the final day of the legislative session. The Republican sponsors say they’ll push it again next year. Seven other states have passed similar bills.
Under the bill, state officials would be granted authority to have Tennessee join other states in a “health care compact,” then seek the U.S. Congress’ approval to take over Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care programs — along with all federal money used to pay for them.
The releases generally follow arguments presented against the bills in the Legislature by some Democrats. The Republican sponsors, Sen. Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet and Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon, argued the measure just opened up one possible option for the state to consider and that, given federal problems with Medicare and Medicaid, the state might be able to do a better job managing the programs.
Hall and Ragan could not be reached for comment Thursday. Adam Nickas, executive director of the state Republican Party, said such efforts were designed by Democrats as a distraction.
“While Republicans have offered a serious plan to save Medicare, the only person on the ballot that has cut $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund is at the top of the Democrats’ ticket- President Obama,” Nickas said.