On The Day He Qualifies For Medicare, Romney Touts Mistruths About The Program

On the day of Mitt Romney’s 65th birthday, making him eligible for Medicare — though he’s not signing up for it — his campaign has released five questions about Medicare for President Obama, ranging from why the president is “ending medicare as we know it” to why he’s “creating an unaccountable board to ration care.”

The only problem? None of the issues Romney’s questions point out are true. Here’s why:

QUESTION: Why Is President Obama Ending Medicare As We Know It By Allowing It To Go Bankrupt In Less Than 15 Years?

FACT: Medicare is not going bankrupt. The Congressional Budget Office reports that one portion — Medicare Part A or hospital insurance — will become “insolvent.” As Igor Volsky has reported, “Dedicated revenues will not be sufficient to pay all of its bills and the hospital fund will meet about 90 percent of its commitments, rather than the full 100 percent. In the succeeding years that shortfall will slowly widen and then contract, so that in 2085, Medicare could pay out 88 percent of its obligations.” By lowering annual payment updates to providers, savings from the Affordable Care Act will extend the life of the trust fund by nine years.


QUESTION: Why Is President Obama Ending Medicare As We Know It By Funding Obamacare Through $500 Billion In Medicare Cuts For Today’s Seniors?

FACT: The health law does not cut Medicare’s current budget. As ThinkProgress has previously explained, it slows the growth in the program by removing $500 billion from future spending over the next 10 years — not cutting from current senior’s benefits. The cuts help stabilize Medicare by eliminating overpayments and slowly phasing in payment adjustments that encourage greater efficiency. As a result, the law extends the life of the Medicare trust fund by nine years and allows seniors to retain all of their guaranteed Medicare benefits.

QUESTION: Why Is President Obama Ending Medicare As We Know It By Creating An Unaccountable Board To Ration Care For Today’s Seniors?

FACT: The proposal is statutorily prohibited from rationing benefits or increasing co-pays and will go into effect unless Congress acts to alter the proposal or discontinue automatic implementation. And the board will be composed of doctors, economists, and consumer representatives who will be confirmed by the Senate

and will be tasked with designing a savings plan if health care spending increases beyond a certain threshold. QUESTION: Why Is President Obama Ending Medicare As We Know It By Destroying Medicare Advantage For Today’s Seniors?

FACT: Far from destroying Medicare Advantage, the choices available through the program are “stronger than ever,” the White House reported in February. Nancy-Ann DeParle, White House deputy chief of staff for domestic policy, explained that premiums for Medicare Advantage are lower and enrollment has been higher since the Affordable Care Act made the changes to Medicare Advantage, which Republicans derided. “As reported last year, 99.7 percent of people with Medicare still have access to Medicare Advantage plans,” DeParle said.

QUESTION: Why Is President Obama Ending Medicare As We Know It By Ending Access To Care For Today’s Seniors?

FACT: As has been explained, the Afforable Care Act does not cut current benefits, is not disappearing, and has actually expanded options for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage. And many presidents have made changes to Medicare since 1965, including Republican idol Ronald Reagan, without ending care for seniors or destroying Medicare. Reagan even 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).