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July 4, 2015

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election 2012:

Line of Attack: Is Berkley a crusader to protect Medicare?


Leila Navidi

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., attends the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City on Monday, May 28, 2012.

Editor’s note: Line of Attack is a feature that will run each week until the Nov. 6 election. In Line of Attack, we will parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: Rep. Shelley Berkley is a crusader to protect Medicare, while Sen. Dean Heller wants to end the program as we know it.

Method of delivery: This message will be ubiquitous on television, radio and the Internet in ads paid for not just by the Berkley campaign, but the political non-profit Patriot Majority. Independent expenditure groups like Patriot Majority are legally prohibited from coordinating with a campaign. But that doesn’t mean their messages can’t overlap.

Strategy: Perhaps we should call this week’s installment Line of Defense. Since the House Ethics Committee launched a formal investigation into whether Berkley used her office to benefit her husband’s medical practice, Berkley is on a mission to convince voters the probe is no big deal. In her first defense ad, she works to recast the ethics allegation as proof she’s continually fighting for the little guy. She fought to protect Medicare reimbursement rates so patients would have access to care, not so her husband’s kidney care business wouldn’t lose money.

The strategy offers a nice pivot to what was sure to be a campaign issue anyway, Heller’s votes in support of the budget put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, which dramatically changes the way Medicare would work for people under age 55.

Fairness Meter: Two things here: First, the ad says Berkley fought to prevent cuts to Medicare coverage for patients. At the heart of the ethics complaint, however, is her work to prevent cuts to reimbursement rates for doctors. Less money to doctors could mean fewer doctors to provide care to Medicare patients. Still, this line verges on an eye roll.

Second, whether the Ryan budget “kills Medicare” or “ends Medicare” or “ends Medicare as we know it” has been the subject of multiple fact-checks. Most conclude that the budget wouldn’t “kill” the program. Still, the final product would be dramatically different than the program seniors rely on today. If Berkley’s ad relied on the terminology “as we know it,” it would be easier to label the attack legit. Heller did vote for it twice and he did say he was proud of the vote. But the Ryan budget wouldn’t end Medicare altogether, so again, we have to give this one an Eye Roll.

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  1. This is an extremely short sighted argument. Shelley Berkeley has always been a patient and physician advocate. Her husband's medical practice does stand to benefit by her stance on Medicare, but so do thousands of other medical practices and millions of Medicare recipients. To state that there is an ulterior motive by her position on this issue, is to totally disregard the impact cuts in Medicare will have on the total medical climate, and the effect on the population that has reached the age of Medicare benefits, you know the working class, with yearly incomes less than 250,000 dollars, and those requiring the most health care, simply on the basis of their age.

  2. This article is written from the Far Right Point of view.

    Paul Ryan's Plan does increase the cost of Medicare for Seniors by $ 6,000 dollars (something this article conveniently leaves out), and future retirees would be provided Vouchers to help them purchase insurance in the Private Insurance Market. This way Insurance companies can make their 30% overhead instead of Medicares 3%.

    Ryans Plan has No protection for Pre-Existing Conditions, No Index to Medical Inflation, No Price Guarantees.

    And as For Shelly Berkley fighting for a Fair Reimbursement for Medical Doctors (Right ON), what good would Medicare be if Doctors could not make ANY money to support their business. This is another way Republicans are attacking Medicare - Strangle it to death by making sure no Doctor will accept it.

    If you want to protect Medicare as we know it - or even support Medicare For All (President Obama on Down) Vote Solid Democratic at ALL levels and send the Tea Party Packing.

    And do not be concerned about the wealthy, They can always build a Hospital in the Cayman Islands when they visit their money.

  3. Please explain how you are protecting Medicare while you allow America to go bankrupt. It is a mathematical certainty that entitlement programs will be cut, along with military spending, and every cabinet level department. In addition, taxes will get raised. It is no longer a matter of if all this will happen, but when.

  4. She's become the poster girl for ethics violation. This is WHY there are ethics laws. Ask almost any former Senator who resigned--Ensign, the dude in the airport bathroom, the New Yorker who emailed skin pics of himself.... And nobody, none of them, seemed to get it until they were (almost) indicted. Go figure. We sure got some sharpies in office.

  5. Obamacare gutted Medicare/Medicaid by $500 Billion.

    Berkley voted for Obamacare, meaning, she voted to gut Medicare by $500 billion.

    And, BTW, there's 21 new taxes in Obamacare. Perhaps Congresswoman Berkley can explain why she voted to gut Medicare and raise taxes??