Last night, the president continued to insist on referring to the House Republican Budget’s Medicare reform proposal as a “voucher.” While this allegation has been consistently disproved, the president took every opportunity to use this misleading term in a cynical attempt to scare seniors. Below is a transcript of some of the president’s claims with potential responses to help you correct the record.
Claim: “And the essence of the plan is that you would turn Medicare into a voucher program. It's called premium support, but it's understood to be a voucher program.”
Response: Former Democratic Senator John Breaux (D-LA) has repeatedly stated that premium support is not, as the president has falsely claimed, a voucher. In addition, former Clinton Budget Director Alice Rivlin, who worked with Rep. Paul Ryan in developing the House budget, has made it clear that premium support is not a voucher with the following statement in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee: “premium support as we define it is definitely not a voucher.”
The House Republican plan is not a voucher—it is a payment that flows through to whatever plan recipients choose. Whether you have private insurance or choose to keep coverage through the current Medicare structure, the coverage has a premium cost. When the beneficiary receives a contribution toward paying that premium, again either from their employer or from the government, the contribution is exactly what it sounds like—premium support. This occurs in the private sector, in Medicare Advantage, and in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, in which Members of Congress participate. More importantly, it sounds strikingly similar to the way President Obama envisions the American Health Benefit Exchange would work— Americans pick the plan that works best for them from multiple offerings, and the government provides a subsidy to help pay the cost of the premium. As Avik Roy wondered, if premium support is “fatal” for Medicare, why is it good enough for Obamacare? Why does President Obama have such little faith in our seniors?
Claim: “The problem is that because the voucher wouldn't necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.”
Response: The president is insisting on referring to an analysis that applied to the FY2012 House budget—not the FY 2013 House Budget, or even Governor Romney’s proposal. It wasn’t true then, and it’s not true today. That analysis, performed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), failed to account for what CBO’s director admitted was a “gap in [CBO’s] toolkit”: CBO cannot quantify the waiting lists and denied care that would hit seniors if the price controls and bureaucratic rationing in the president’s health care law take full effect. In other words, the impact of the FY2012 House budget was not measured against the diminished value and denied care that the president’s health care law ensures. It was measured against a fiscal fantasy. A more accurate comparison would be to a Medicare program that will no longer be able to pay out full benefits to seniors in 2024 and will decrease access to services in the meantime. In both FY2012 and FY2013 House budgets, lower-income seniors and those with greater health risks receive extra protection – medical savings accounts to offset out-of-pocket costs and additional payments for plans that inadvertently enroll a sicker population.
Claim: “So, I don't think vouchers are the right way to go. And this is not my own — only my opinion. AARP thinks that the — the savings that we obtained from Medicare bolster the system, lengthen the Medicare trust fund by eight years. Benefits were not affected at all.”
Response: Here, the president reiterates that ObamaCare guarantees coverage, but not care. The $716 billion in Medicare cuts made by ObamaCare include a $308 billion cut to Medicare Advantage (including interactions), $294 billion cut to hospitals (includes DSH), $66 billion cut to home health, $39 billion cut to nursing homes, and $17 billion cut to hospice, among others. This means that seniors will still receive Medicare coverage for hospital services, physician services, etc., but it does not mean that Medicare beneficiaries are unaffected by the cuts. Many physicians are already declining to accept Medicare patients due to the low reimbursements rates; the President’s health care law’s additional payment reductions will only exacerbate this problem. A 2011 study found that reductions in staffing and operating costs caused by cuts to Medicare reimbursements damages the quality of care.
AARP is now backing away from the president. The organization released a statement following the debate, saying, "While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign.”
Bottom line: Without action, Medicare will go bankrupt in 2024. Where is the president’s plan to save Medicare?
For more information or questions please contact Lisa Collins at 5-2045.