Republicans have been trying to defeat health reform by scaring seniors that their Medicare benefits will be cut if the bill passes. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) have made the false argument in recent weeks. Today, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) repeated the myth in a phone interview with Memphis’ ABC affiliate. She offered a host of vacuous, Frank Luntz-approved talking points before making this statement:
Our seniors are saying, look don’t diminish Medicare. We have been paying into Medicare. That is pre-paid for us. It’s been coming out of our paycheck for 40 years. And they don’t want that Medicare to be diminished.
Of course, it’s ironic that conservatives who have long argued for killing Medicare are now proclaiming to be the protectors of it. “Nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits. I just want to make that absolutely clear,” President Obama has said. The health reform bill would not “diminish” Medicare benefits. “To the contrary, reform would simply eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies.” In addition, The Gavel notes several provisions in the House bill that strengthen Medicare:
Phases in completely filling in the “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (where drug costs are not reimbursed at certain levels), potentially savings seniors thousands of dollars a year.
Eliminates co-payments and deductibles for preventive services under Medicare.
Limits cost-sharing requirements in Medicare Advantage plans to the amount charged for the same services in traditional Medicare coverage.
Improves the low-income subsidy programs in Medicare, such as by increasing asset limits for programs that help Medicare beneficiaries pay premiums and cost-sharing.