GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds can't tell the truth about Medicare. He can't even tell a consistent story about his own position on government-run health care.

Consider Rounds's statements about the Veterans Health Administration and the Affordable Care Act in this in-depth report from Northern Plains News. He says both programs are engaged in rationing, because rationing is a big scary word Republicans use to make us think we're in some leaky European lifeboat with Marxists hoarding provisions while Lady Astor swoons at the stern.

But notice that a guy who cries rationing is saying not enough health care is being dished out, at least to people he likes, if not to people in general. Rounds, unlike the conservative he claims to be, appears to believe that there's plenty of health care to go around, and he wants us to pay for it. Consider his statement on veterans' health care:

A lack of doctors and hiding behind bureaucracy to meet arbitrary goals, according to Rounds, are just ways the VA system meters out health care to veterans.

“Health care shouldn’t be rationed,” Rounds said in an interview Monday (June 2, 2014). “They should be allowed to go to another health organization” [Todd Epp, "Rounds Says the Federal Government Is in the Health Care Rationing Business," Northern Plains News, 2014.06.10].

Sending veterans to other health care providers sounds like a good idea to the U.S. House: they unanimously passed a bill to that effect yesterday. HR 4810 would let the VA outsource care for two years to clear the queue. But even reimbursing non-VA facilities at VA, Medicare, or Tricare rates, the VA will spend more money than it does currently. So conservative Mike Rounds is saying he wants more government-funded health care, not less.

Interestingly, Rounds doesn't trust the government to set reimbursement rates high enough to make providing some health services worth private hospitals' while. To pound this fear home, Rounds trots out his wealthy old dad again to scare old folks about the Affordable Care Act:

...Rounds is afraid the Independent Payment Advisory Board would set doctor reimbursements so low for lifesaving procedures for elders like his 86-year-old father Don, who has had a history of heart problems and operations, as to make them unprofitable. Thus, physicians and hospitals won’t offer the services or severely limit the number they perform.

“It’s a way of rationing health care. It’s wrong. It’s not what we want for our dads, our grandmas, for our moms, for our kids,” Rounds said [Epp, 2014.06.10].

Again, Rounds has two logical policy responses. He can advocate higher reimbursement rates, which means spending more tax dollars on health care. If Rounds doesn't want to spend more tax dollars on health care, then deep down he must be o.k. with rationing, just not rationing done by government. In his calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rounds has yet to enunciate any policy other than free market voodoo, which also rations health care, but ensures that the biggest rations go to rich folks like his dad and his campaign donors.

Rationing is a scare word used to distract us from what Mike Rounds is really thinking. He's a conservative advocating either more government spending on health care or less affordable care for most Americans. Rounds is not offering consistent policy; he's just saying stuff to get votes and hoping we won't notice until he's in power.