In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the health care reform legislation, Fox's Brit Hume revived the misleading claim that the law cuts $500 billion from Medicare. In fact, the "cuts" will come through eliminating parts of Medicare "seen as ineffective or wasteful," and experts predict that the quality of care under Medicare will not be compromised.
Fox's Hume Advances Misleading Claim Of $500 Billion In Cuts To Medicare
Fox's Hume Claims "Obama Wants To Take $500 Billion Out Of" Medicare. During a July 2 O'Reilly Factor segment on the health care law, Fox News' senior political analyst Brit Hume claimed that President Obama "wants to take $500 billion out of" Medicare. Hume also said that "one thing that Romney is for is not taking $500 billon out of Medicare, which is what worries a lot of senior citizens about Obamacare." From The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY (host): Senior citizens are very, very worried, that their premiums are going to go up, and that they're going to be tossed off the rolls if they get cancer or something like that.
HUME: No they're not. Bill, they all have Medicare, nobody is proposing to change that except Obama who wants to take $500 billion out of it.
HUME: They have at least one or two bullet points, but one thing that Romney is for is not taking $500 billion out of Medicare, which is what worries a lot of senior citizens about Obamacare. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/2/12, via Media Matters]
In Fact, Savings Come From Reducing Inefficiency; Experts Predict Quality Of Care Under Medicare Will Not Decline
ABC News: Under Health Care Law "Medicare Spending Will Continue To Grow." On June 28, ABC News fact-checked an assertion made by Mitt Romney that health care reform "cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion." ABC reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Kaiser Family Health Foundation agree that "there will be no benefit cuts to Medicare" and that "spending will be reduced by getting rid of fraud and ending overpayments to private insurance companies." From ABC News:
Medicare spending will continue to grow, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but ACA will slow that growth. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Health Foundation over the next 10 years, the federal government will devote about $500 billion less to Medicare than it would have without ACA.
CMS and the Kaiser Family Foundation tell ABC News that there will be no benefit cuts to Medicare. They say instead of Medicare's being cut, there will be much more spending at the end of a 10-year window, but it does slow the rate of that growth. This is all unless Congress makes drastic changes to Medicare, for example passing House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan.
CMS says -- and Kaiser agrees -- that spending will be reduced by getting rid of fraud and ending overpayments to private insurance companies. It sends a message to those insurance companies: Operate more efficiently.
And instead of cuts, the CMS says they will be able to fund new benefits, including free preventive care and broader prescription coverage, including closing the "doughnut hole" affecting seniors. [ABC News, 6/28/12]
Health Care Expert: "There Are No Reductions In The Medicare Benefits Promised In Law." A June 28 Bloomberg article quoted Gail Wilensky, former administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare under President George H.W. Bush, as saying, "There are no reductions in the Medicare benefits promised in law." From Bloomberg:
Florida seniors will be living a "nightmare" because Senator Bill Nelson voted for $500 billion in Medicare cuts, the anonymous voice warns in the most-aired advertisement in his re-election race -- a message repeated in similar spots targeting other Democrats across the country.
It's also wrong, according to a Republican health-care expert and independent analysts.
"There are no reductions in the Medicare benefits promised in law," said Gail Wilensky, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare under President George H.W. Bush and is a senior fellow at Project Hope, a health-research organization in Virginia. [Bloomberg, 6/28/12]
PolitiFact: "The Health Care Law Does Not Cut $500 Billion From Medicare. It Just Reduces Future Growth." According to PolitiFact.com, "the health care law does not cut $500 billion from Medicare. It just reduces future growth." PolitiFact.com also noted that "[w]ith the law, Medicare spending will still increase." From PolitiFact.com:
The law aims to slow future growth in Medicare spending. It does not cut from the Medicare program.
The health care law made several changes to Medicare, which provides health insurance for millions of seniors and people under 65 receiving Social Security disability payments.
Some of the changes will increase Medicare spending to help cover prevention services and to fill the so-called doughnut hole, a gap in prescription drug coverage for some enrollees, according to a tutorial by Tricia Neuman, vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project for the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent group that analyzes the health care system.
Other changes aim to reduce growth in Medicare spending, by more than $500 billion over 10 years, though estimates of the future savings vary.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have both released reports since the health care law passed showing that the Affordable Care Act will reduce future spending growth on Medicare by more than $500 billion.
But the health care law does not cut $500 billion from Medicare. It just reduces future growth.
With the law, Medicare spending will still increase. [PolitiFact.com, 6/28/12]
FactCheck: "The Law Stipulates That Guaranteed Medicare Benefits Won't Be Reduced, And It Adds Some New Benefits." According to FactCheck.org, the health care law "stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals." From FactCheck.org:
As we have written many times, the law does not slash the current Medicare budget by $500 billion. Rather, that's a $500 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years, or about a 7 percent reduction in growth over the decade. In other words, Medicare spending would continue to rise, just not as much. The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.
Most of those savings come from a reduction in the future growth of payments to hospitals and other providers (not physicians), and a reduction in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans to bring those payments in line with traditional Medicare. (MA plans have been paid more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.)
And it assumes they actually happen. There's good reason to think that some of those reductions won't be implemented. The law calls for cuts in the future growth of reimbursement payments to hospitals and other health care providers -- that accounts for $219 billion of the Medicare savings in the law. But Congress has consistently overridden similar scheduled cuts in payments to doctors. [FactCheck.org, 6/28/12]
PolitiFact: Reductions "Aimed At Eliminating Parts Of The Medicare Program Seen As Ineffective Or Wasteful." PolitiFact.com reported that reductions under the health care law "are aimed at eliminating parts of the Medicare program seen as ineffective or wasteful." From PolitiFact.com:
Under the act, Congress voted to reduce $500 billion in projected Medicare spending over the next 10 years, not in one substantial chunk. The reductions are aimed at eliminating parts of the Medicare program seen as ineffective or wasteful. For example, the plan phases out payments to the Medicare Advantage program, an optional program set up under the George W. Bush administration, where seniors could opt to enroll in a private insurance program and the federal government would subsidize a portion of their premium. [PolitiFact.com, 5/10/11]
PolitiFact: "Experts Say The Quality Of Care Should Not Be Shortchanged." PolitiFact.com also reported that "even though $500 billion in spending is being reduced, health care experts say the quality of care should not be shortchanged." From PolitiFact.com:
[E]ven though $500 billion in spending is being reduced, health care experts say the quality of care should not be shortchanged.
"Some (reforms) increase Medicare spending to improve benefits and coverage," said Tricia Neuman, vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, in a video on the foundation's website.
"Other provisions reduce the growth in Medicare spending to help the program operate more efficiently and help fund coverage expansions to the uninsured in the underlying health reform legislation," Neuman said. "Other provisions are designed to improve the delivery of care and quality of care." [PolitiFact.com, 5/10/11]