FACT CHECK: Romney Would End Medicare As We Know it, Turn It Into Vouchers

FACT CHECK: Romney Would End Medicare As We Know it, Turn It Into Vouchers

Mitt Romney just falsely attacked the President – again – on Medicare. Once again, here are the facts:

ROMNEY’S MEDICARE CLAIMS ARE FALSE: THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT EXTENDS MEDICARE SOLVENCY AND STRENGTHENS BENEFITS BY CUTTING WASTE AND ELIMINATING NEEDLESS PAYMENTS TO INSURANCE COMPANIES

New York Times Editorial Board: “$716 Billion Is Not A ‘Cut’ In Benefits But Rather The Savings In Costs That The Congressional Budget Office Projects Over The Next Decade From Wholly Reasonable Provisions In The Reform Law.”  “A Republican attack ad says that the reform law has “cut” $716 billion from Medicare, with the money used to expand coverage to low-income people who are currently uninsured….In reality, the $716 billion is not a ‘cut’ in benefits but rather the savings in costs that the Congressional Budget Office projects over the next decade from wholly reasonable provisions in the reform law.”  [Editorial, New York Times, 8/18/12]

AARP:  The Affordable Care Act “Protects And Strengthens Guaranteed Benefits In Medicare.”  “The legislative package [the Affordable Care Act] cracks down on insurance company abuses and protects and strengthens guaranteed benefits in Medicare, the program millions of our members depend on and in which millions more will soon enroll. It closes the dreaded Medicare Part D ‘doughnut hole,’ a gap in prescription drug coverage that is life-threatening for many. … And it improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening the program for today’s seniors and future generations.” [AARP Press Release, 3/10/12]

The Affordable Care Act Extends The Solvency Of Medicare Part A To 2024, Eight Years Longer Than Without Health Care Reform. “The Medicare Trustees Report released today shows that the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent until 2024, the same as last year’s estimate, but action is needed to secure its long-term future.  In 2011, the HI Trust Fund expenditures were lower than expected. Without the Affordable Care Act, the HI Trust Fund would expire 8 years earlier, in 2016. ” [Center For Medicare & Medicaid Services, 04/23/12]

The Affordable Care Act Reduces The Practice Of Significantly Paying More To Private Insurers That Contract With Medicare Than It Would Cost To Cover Those People In Traditional Medicare. “The Affordable Care Act reduces the practice of paying substantially more to private insurers that contract with Medicare than it would cost Medicare to cover those individuals in traditional Medicare.” [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 04/23/12]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT CLOSES THE DOUGHNUT HOLE IN MEDICARE PART D BY 2020, AND HAS ALREADY REDUCED THE COST OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR MILLIONS OF MEDICARE RECIPIENTS

The Affordable Care Act Closes The Prescription Drug Coverage Gap—The “Doughnut Hole”—In Medicare Part D By 2020. “The Affordable Care Act includes benefits to make your Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) more affordable. It does this by gradually closing the gap in drug coverage known as the ‘Donut Hole.’... the gap is closed in 2020.” [healthcare.gov, 08/03/11]

In 2011, Nearly 3.6 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Who Were In The Medicare Part D Coverage Gap Received Discounts On Prescription Drugs. [Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, 02/02/12]

Ø  In 2011, Medicare Recipients Have Saved More Than $2.1 Billion Through The Prescription Drug Coverage Gap Discount Program In The Affordable Care Act. [Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, 02/02/12]

Ø  Medicare Recipients In The Prescription Drug Coverage Gap Saved An Average Of $604. [Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services, 02/02/12]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT HAS ALREADY PROVIDED AN ESTIMATED 32.5 MILLION AMERICANS IN MEDICARE AND MEDICARE ADVANTAGE WITH PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE BENEFITS

Combined With Seniors Enrolled In Medicare Advantage Plans, An Estimated 32.5 Million Medicare Beneficiaries Benefited From Medicare’s Coverage Of Prevention With No Cost Sharing. “This report details how over 25.7 million Americans in traditional Medicare received free preventive services in 2011.  In Medicare Advantage, last year 9.3 million Americans – 97 percent of those in individual Medicare Advantage plans – were enrolled in a plan that offers free preventive services. Assuming that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries utilized preventive services at the same rate as beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, an estimated 32.5 million beneficiaries benefited from Medicare’s coverage of prevention with no cost sharing.” [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 02/2012]

Under The Affordable Care Act, At Least 25.7 Million Americans In Traditional Medicare Received At Least One Free Preventive Benefit In 2011, Including The New Annual Wellness Visit. “According to preliminary numbers, at least 25,720,996 million Americans took advantage of at least one free preventive benefit in Medicare in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit. This represents 73.3% of Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries.” [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 02/2012]

THE ROMNEY-RYAN PLAN WOULD END MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT – TURNING IT INTO A VOUCHER SYSTEM…

Romney: “Paul Ryan And My Plan For Medicare I Think Is The Same, If Not Identical It's Probably Close To Identical.” [WBAY (Green Bay, WI), 8/15/12]

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait: President Obama’s Argument That Romney Would “End Medicare As We Know It” Is “Undeniably True.” “Today President Obama talks Medicare in Florida and argues that Mitt Romney will ‘end Medicare as we know it.’ The claim is undeniably true, though keep in mind that ‘as we know it’ is a fairly elastic term.” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, 7/19/12]

Romney Adviser Tara Wall Said Romney And Ryan “Are Certainly 100% On The Same Page And On The Same Path Relative To Saying That We Have To Reform Medicare, Offering Options Like Vouchers.” [CNN Newsroom, CNN, 8/14/12]

Bloomberg: “Ryan’s Budget Bill Also Would End Traditional Medicare By Capping Spending And Offer Vouchers To Buy Private Insurance.” [Bloomberg, 8/13/12]

Romney’s Medicare Plan: “Medicare Is Reformed As A Premium Support System, Meaning That Existing Spending Is Repackaged As A Fixed-Amount Benefit To Each Senior That He Or She Can Use To Purchase An Insurance Plan.” [Romney Press Release, Spending Plan – “Cut The Spending,” 11/4/11]

Reuters: “Ryan's Plan Calls For An End To The Guaranteed Benefit In Medicare And Replaces It With A System That Would Give Vouchers To Recipients To Pay For Health Insurance.” [Reuters, 8/12/12]

…WHICH WOULD SHIFT MORE COSTS ON TO SENIORS AND RAISE THE COST OF TRADITIONAL MEDICARE

Los Angeles Times Headline: “Seniors Would Pay The Price Of Ryan’s Plan To Overhaul Medicare.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/13/12]

Los Angeles Times: Under The Ryan Budget “Seniors Would End Up Paying Almost Twice As Much Out Of Their Own Pockets.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/11]

New York Times Editorial: Ryan’s Plan Would Turn Medicare Into A Voucher System And “Would Leave Older Americans On Average With $6,400 In Extra Costs By 2022, According To The Congressional Budget Office.” “Most voters know little about Mr. Ryan. Those who have heard of him are probably most familiar with his Medicare plan, which would turn the program into a voucher system that would pay beneficiaries a fixed amount for their medical care, leaving them on their own if the voucher did not cover their costs. This notion so alarmed the public last year that Mr. Ryan was forced to backtrack and leave the existing Medicare system as an option. Even so, the plan would leave older Americans on average with $6,400 in extra costs by 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” [Editorial, New York Times, 8/13/12]

New York Times Editorial: Ryan’s Plan “Could Lead To Higher Costs And Premiums In Traditional Medicare.” “Unfortunately, that could lead to higher costs and premiums in traditional Medicare because it would attract older and sicker patients who would be expensive to cover, while healthier, cheaper patients flocked to private plans. In the long run, the premium support plan could shift costs to beneficiaries because it would limit annual per capita spending growth to well below the level required by the health care reform act.” [Editorial, New York Times, 3/20/12]