When are cuts to Medicare not cuts to Medicare at all?
When Republican politicians on the campaign trail and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS Super PAC in a television commercial say they’re cuts made by Obamacare.
The line is being trotted out in Iowa by Joni Ernst who’s running against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley and they’re being served up by Crossraids in Colorado to attack U.S. Senator Mark Udall who is running in a tight re-election race against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner.
The line, which has been trotted out since 2012, is that the Affordable Care Act “cut Medicare” by more than $700 billion.
It’s a powerful line. Millions of older Americans rely on government-funded Medicare and older Americans vote. The problem is the charge is not true, it has been debunked for years and by the very source the people making the accusations cite to support the claim when they make it — the Congressional Budget Office.
As the Des Moines Register put it yesterday, “There is something ironic about Republicans criticizing changes in how Medicare uses taxpayer money.”
The changes brought to Medicare by Obamacare are exactly the kind Republicans say they want to bring to all kinds of government programs. Obamacare has made Medicare spending more efficient. The changes do not reduce benefits.
The Register:[blockquote]The Affordable Care Act does seek to hold down the rate of growth in Medicare spending. It reduces reimbursements for some providers, cuts taxpayer subsidies to private insurers who offer more-costly Medicare Advantage plans and pays hospitals less if they fail to meet new benchmarks in patient care.
The law encourages providers to be more efficient and provide better care. In other words, the law does things that make sense as the population ages and more Americans enroll in Medicare.[/blockquote]
The Congressional Budget Office’s response to the line Republicans have been pushing based on its figures: Stop saying that!
Again the Register:[blockquote][GOP House Speaker John] Boehner asked the CBO to estimate the impact on the federal budget if Obamacare were repealed. The CBO determined that ending the law would increase Medicare spending by $711 billion over a decade. Opponents seized on that explanation and reframed it as proof that keeping the law in place would “cut” Medicare spending by that amount.
Then they ignored the other 21 pages of the letter. The gist of it: Repealing Obamacare will make the nation’s overall fiscal situation worse by adding $109 billion to the national deficit from 2013 to 2022. That’s right. Though it costs money to provide health insurance to Americans, the law’s mix of spending cuts, tax increases, penalties, fees and other changes more than offset that cost…
The bottom line: Obamacare does not hurt seniors. They spend less on prescription drugs and pay nothing for preventative care under it. The law improves the solvency of Medicare. It provides health insurance to millions more Americans.[/blockquote]
Republicans like Gardner have tied their fortunes to opposing Obamacare at every turn. Their attacks on the program started off enflamed and have moved into dark fantasy and propaganda. Their attempts on the stump and in Congress appear increasingly flailing. Obamacare meantime continues on, saving millions of Americans money and delivering better healthcare to the nation.