Mitt Romney offered a white board presentation during a news briefing in South Carolina on Thursday morning that sought to untangle the campaign’s contradictory message about Medicare. Over the last week, Romney and Ryan have twisted themselves into a pretzel to attack President Obama for “stealing” $716 billion from Medicare, while trying to explain why Paul Ryan included the savings in his FY 2013 budget. Romney had previously pledged to sign the document into law.
During the presentation, Romney tried to lay out the differences. Obama takes the money out of seniors’ Medicare Advantage plans and cuts payments to providers, causing some to lose his coverage, he argued. The program’s trust fund would go bankrupt by 2024, under Obama, and seniors would lose access to the care they need. His plan, alternatively, would preserve the program for current retirees and keep it solvent indefinitely.
ThinkProgress explains why this is wrong:
The Obamacare savings slow the growth of Medicare over the next decade by, in part: eliminating overpayments to private insurers in Medicare Advantage, reforming provider payments to encourage greater efficiency, tying reimbursements to improvements in economic productivity, and reducing fraud and abuse. The law does not impact patient benefits.
As a result of these savings, “growth in spending will be restrained” and the life of the Medicare trust fund is expanded by eight years, the government estimates. Sixteen million seniors are also benefiting from the savings by receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and saving more than $3.9 billion on prescription drugs.
Should Romney restore the $716 billion — and unless he institutes other yet to be specified reforms — we would move back to the old system of overpaying private insurers and providers. He’d be re-inserting inefficiency back into the system, jeopardizing the benefits that seniors are currently enjoying, and shrinking the solvency of the Medicare trust fund from 2024 under current law to 2016.