Romney’s Plan To Restore Medicare Cuts Would Increase Seniors’ Premiums

Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan continue to attack President Obama for “stealing” $716 billion from Medicare. The GOP presidential candidate says he will restore the cuts, despite the fact that Ryan included the savings in his FY 2013 budget.

But if Romney did stick to his plan to undo the billions cut from Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, it would make Medicare insolvent eight years sooner, from 2024 to 2016, and increase premiums for the program’s beneficiaries. And according to the New York Times, that goes against Romney’s promise that current beneficiaries or Americans within 10 years of eligibility would be affected by his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system:

For those reasons, Henry J. Aaron, an economist and a longtime health policy analyst at the Brookings Institution and the Institute of Medicine, called Mr. Romney’s vow to repeal the savings “both puzzling and bogus at the same time.”

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577. […]

“One can only wonder what’s going on inside their headquarters in Boston and among their policy people,” said John McDonough, the director of the Center for Public Health Leadership at Harvard. “But there are only two explanations: Either they don’t understand how the program works, which is hard to imagine, or there is some deliberate misrepresentation here because they know how politically potent this charge is.”

The Romney campaign disputes these facts, though. “The idea that restoring funding to Medicare could somehow hasten its bankruptcy is on its face absurd,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, according to the New York Times. And Romney has been particularly critical of cuts to Medicare Advantage, a private-policy alternative to Medicare that has consistently cost more. He claimed that Obama’s plan is “four million people losing Medicare Advantage” within the $716 billion of cuts.

But since Obamacare became law, Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased. Under his plan, Medicare would go back to paying for higher payments to hospitals and insurers. Romney claims that Obama “robbed” Medicare, but his plan would do more to harm seniors who depend on it for health care.