During the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan, several claims were made about Medicare. Some of these were true, others false. See which ones you can guess right:
Biden: “We saved $716 billion and put it back, applied it to Medicare.”
False. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion and uses that money to fund new spending under Obamacare. It does not strengthen Medicare at all. (For all of the “fact checkers” out there, these are across-the-board administrative cuts based on a specific formula. They do not target waste, fraud, or abuse. They come from Medicare Advantage (MA), hospital services, nursing homes, and more. For a full list, click here.)
Ryan: “They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for Obamacare. Their own actuary from the Administration came to Congress and said one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this.”
True. According to the Medicare Actuary, “providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries). Simulations by the Office of the Actuary suggest that roughly 15 percent of Part A providers [hospitals and nursing homes] would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.”
Ryan: “7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have.”
True. The Medicare Actuary said, “The new provisions will generally reduce MA rebates to plans and thereby result in less generous benefit packages. We estimate that in 2017, when the MA provisions will be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plans will be lower by about 50 percent (from its projected level of 14.8 million under the prior law to 7.4 million under the new law).”
Biden: “That didn’t happen. More people signed up [for Medicare Advantage].”
True. Enrollment in MA has increased since Obamacare became law. But only because the Obama Administration hid the MA cuts with bonus payments—that cost taxpayers over $8 billion—a politically clever and legally questionable move. But the jig is up in 2014, and those cuts will destroy MA for seniors.
Ryan: “[T]his new Obamacare board [is] in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”
True. It is called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), and according to the law itself, its purpose is to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” It is made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats charged with meeting the newly established budget target in Medicare. The main way they are lawfully allowed to cut Medicare is through slashing provider reimbursement. If providers aren’t paid enough, they can’t keep afloat—which of course will impact seniors’ ability to access care.
Ryan: “[T]hat $6,400 number, it was misleading then, it’s totally inaccurate now.”
True. The allegation that premium support in Medicare would cost seniors over $6,400 more is both wrong and misleading. Heritage expert Rea Hederman explains that “this dollar amount is incorrect, and the charge is erroneous. Such false charges are based on an outdated [CBO] model of [Ryan’s] 2011 budget proposal.” In fact, under Ryan’s current proposal, a senior would be guaranteed at least two health plans whose premiums meet 100 percent of the contribution amount. Read the facts.