In the ongoing rhetorical war over Medicare in the race for PA-12, Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) fired another shot by voting against a House motion repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Critics of the law say that it cuts $500 billion from Medicare, whereas its proponents say that the cuts, implemented over the course of 10 years, are actually reforms.
According to PolitiFact, the law actually increases Medicare spending and coverage in a few cases, but that the cuts are actually provisions “designed to reduce future growth in Medicare spending, to encourage the program to operate more efficiently and to improve the delivery and quality of care, in ways including reducing hospital re-admissions.”
Under Obamacare, Medicare spending will still increase, but at a slowed rate that will add up to $500 billion in savings over the course of a decade.
Following other PA House members who voted along party lines with the bill, Critz affirmed his support of the controversial legislation. In a press release from his campaign, Critz said although he wasn’t a supporter of the law in its totality, certain components of it are crucial for patients’ rights.
“As I’ve said before, it would be wrong and irresponsible for Congress to go backwards and allow insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, to kick young adults off their parents’ health insurance plans or to re-open the ‘doughnut hole’ which will force seniors to pay more for medicine, Critz said.
The doughnut hole is the coverage gap Medicare Part D enrollees have when they purchase prescription drugs through the program.
Critz’s general election opponent Keith Rothfus seized on the incumbent Congressman’s words to portray him as an enemy of Medicare in a district with some of the highest levels of participation in Medicare out of any in the U.S.
Earlier today, Critz and Rothfus brought their battle to Twitter, where the two men exchanged glancing rhetorical blows in 140 characters or fewer.
“[Critz] voted for the twenty-first time to protect Obamacare, raid Medicare of $500 billion, put seniors health at risk [and] raise middle class taxes,” Rothfus said over Twitter.
Critz quickly responded, saying he didn’t support the portions of the bill mentioned in Rothfus’ Tweet, and instead supported only the law’s popular components.
“[Rothfus’s] problem with the truth: I voted to repeal [the individual] mandate, [medical] device tax, oppose [Independent Payment Advisory Board,] but won’t allow insurance companies to charge women more than men,” Critz said.
“[Rothfus] may think seniors should pay more for medicine, and kids shouldn’t be covered on parents’ plan, but I do.”
For Rothfus, Critz’s vote against the repeal of Obamacare provides him an opportunity to criticize the incumbent Congressman of trying to have it both ways on the bill – a valid point considering Critz’s checkered past with Obamacare.
During his primary election campaign against Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny) for the newly redrawn PA-12, Critz boasted of having voted against repealing the law less frequently than Altmire. But during his 2010 campaign, Critz ran as a Democrat opposing Obamacare and voted to repeal portions of the law 21 times.
But as a supporter of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plans, Rothfus is in a precarious position, since Ryan’s budget slashes $500 billion from Medicare, a number equal to that of Obamacare.
In addition, under Ryan’s budget plan, Medicare would transform into a voucher system, a move largely opposed by senior citizens.