Michele Bachmann to Glenn Beck: Obama has secret plan to end Medicare

As a presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann is a fierce anti-Obamacare choice. Earlier this week on a Glenn Beck show, she offered her view of what Obama intends to do with Medicare.

Jim Cole/AP
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota answers a question during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13.

Michele Bachmann was on Glenn Beck’s radio program the other day and said in effect that President Obama has a secret plan to get rid of Medicare.

The Democratic Party is playing the demagogue on America’s big senior health-care entitlement program, said Representative Bachmann. Dems are accusing the GOP of undermining Medicare when in fact Republicans are trying to put it on a sound financial footing, said the Minnesota congresswoman. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is declining to unveil any White House program to deal with Medicare’s looming deficits, charged the latest entrant into the GOP presidential-nomination sweepstakes.

“He hasn’t told senior citizens this, but he’s going to roll senior[s] ... into Obamacare,” Bachmann said during an appearance Tuesday on the Beck show.

Furthermore, once they’re in Medicare, 15 unelected bureaucrats – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) – will be able to determine what health care seniors will be able to get. That’s what Bachmann told Mr. Beck, anyway.

He’s “going to pull the rug out from under them by just doing away with Medicare and forcing them into Obamacare where this unelected board will be saying no to their medical procedures. The American people don’t know that. Obama hasn’t told them,” said Bachmann.

What’s she talking about here? We’re not entirely sure, but we’ll take a stab at interpreting. Bachmann thinks Obama will wait for the current Medicare fee-for-service entitlement to collapse because of rising costs. Then he’ll reconstitute the program as a system in which seniors get government assistance to buy private insurance packages through state health-care exchanges.

(Wait a minute: Isn’t that what GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s much-discussed Medicare plan would do? Yes, sort of. But Bachmann has edged away from the Ryan plan, remember.)

And the “unelected board” thing? Well, the IPAB was set up by Obama’s health reform bill to help control Medicare costs. Beginning in 2014, if prices rise too fast, it’s supposed to submit to Congress ideas to cap the price rise. If Congress does not act on the ideas, they can go into effect anyway.

For what it’s worth, the law says that the board’s recommendations can’t ration care or increase costs for Medicare recipients.

But if the IPAB is part of Medicare, and Obama plans to end Medicare, would the board still exist after that happened? Details, details.

Yet the larger point here does not depend on unpacking the details: As a presidential candidate, Bachmann looks like she is going to be the fiercest anti-Obamacare choice. She’s tough, she’s articulate, and she talks faster than Sarah Palin.

The administration’s health-care reforms remain a huge issue with tea party adherents, and polls show that the nation as a whole remains almost evenly split on the issue. In that context, it will be interesting to see how Bachmann’s rhetoric fares.

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