Mitt Romney made the astounding claim that he doesn’t “know anyone among Republicans who’s talking about cutting [Medicare]” during his interview with the Des Moines Register this afternoon and portrayed President Obama as the only President to make cuts in the program:
ROMNEY: Medicare gets cut by $500 billion. This is something, the president is going to hear about, all right? Because the only person I know of to ever cut Medicare is President Obama, by $500 billion to fund Obamacare. Republicans are talking about how to preserve Medicare as an option down the road to make it fiscally sustainable, I don’t know anyone among Republicans who’s talking about cutting it. The only person who’s cut Medicare for current Medicare recipients is President Obama.
But the former Massachusetts governor is wrong on both counts. Many presidents have made changes to Medicare since 1965, including Republican idol Ronald Reagan. Reagan instituted a series of reforms that are strikingly similar to some of the payment changes included in the Affordable Care Act (policies Romney now refers to as cuts or price controls.) For instance, Reagan adopted DRGs or Diagnosis Related Groups for paying hospitals more efficiently. As a result of the changes, Medicare saved $49 billion by 1986, far exceeding what even the Congressional Budget Office had predicted.
If Romney is looking for more modern examples of Medicare cuts he should consider his own Medicare proposal to “fundamentally transform” traditional Medicare into Medicare 2.0. That plan would lower the federal government’s contribution to the program — read: cut — by providing future enrollees with a voucher to purchase public or private health care coverage and capping its growth every year. Romney could also find cuts to Medicare in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which he’s now actively touting. It preserves the $500 billion in Medicare savings that are part of the Affordable Care Act