Fox Still Misleading On Medicare To Promote Romney


Fox News host Steve Doocy suggested Florida seniors should vote for Mitt Romney because he has a plan to fix Medicare, claiming President Obama has no plan to deal with Medicare. In fact, Obama's plan would extend the life of Medicare, while Romney and Paul Ryan's plan would raise costs and possibly end Medicare as it currently exists.

During an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Doocy claimed that if he was a senior in Florida, he would support Romney because "they hear Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talk about figuring a way to fix Medicare and Social Security," whereas President Obama "really hasn't come up with a plan and hasn't made that public." Doocy went on to claim "if I were down in Florida, I'd be looking at the guy who has at least got the plan for a second look."

But Doocy is wrong on both counts: President Obama does have a plan for Medicare which would extend the life of the program without harming benefits, whereas experts agree that the Romney/Ryan plan would lead to higher costs for seniors and eventually end Medicare.

Doocy's claim that Obama has no plan for Medicare is ironic considering Fox's dishonest campaign to attack Medicare reforms in the Affordable Care Act. Fox News has repeatedly claimed that savings of $716 billion in Obama's health care law would hurt seniors. But contrary to that attack and Doocy's false claims , the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the nonpartisan organization that administers Medicare, found that the ACA would extend Medicare's solvency by eight years:

The Medicare Trustees Report released today shows that the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent until 2024, the same as last year's estimate, but action is needed to secure its long-term future. In 2011, the HI Trust Fund expenditures were lower than expected.

Without the Affordable Care Act, the HI Trust Fund would expire 8 years earlier, in 2016. The law provides important tools to control costs over the long run such as changing the way Medicare pays providers to reward efficient, quality care. These efforts to reform the healthcare delivery system are not factored into the Trustees projections as many of the initiatives are just launching.

On the other hand, Paul Ryan's plan, which Romney supports, would replace Medicare with a "premium support" plan that would end traditional Medicare. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found Ryan's claim that his plan "ensure[es] that tradition Medicare remains an option" implausible:

Under premium support, traditional Medicare would tend to attract a less healthy pool of enrollees, while private plans would attract healthier enrollees (as occurs today with Medicare and private Medicare Advantage plans). Although the proposal calls for "risk adjusting" payments to health plans -- that is, adjusting them to reflect the average health status of their enrollees -- the risk adjustment process is highly imperfect and captures only part of the differences in costs across plans that stem from differences in the health of enrollees. 

Further, a recent report  by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a premium support plan modeled on the Romney/Ryan plan would raise costs for the majority of seniors. Regarding the study, the Washington Post's Sarah Kiff explained:

What Kaiser did was pretty simple. Its researchers modeled what would happen if seniors received a set amount from the government to pay for their Medicare benefits. That check would be equal to second-lowest bid from a private, Medicare Advantage plan. That's the same benchmark used in the Ryan Budget, Romney-Ryan proposal and the Domenici-Rivlin proposal.

That was step one. Step two was looking at whether that check would cover the cost of providing Medicare benefits under the traditional or private plans, in a given area. For 59 percent of seniors, it wouldn't: 25 million seniors would pay more for their current benefits if the government enacted this premium support model right now.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform, Medicare
Fox News Channel
Steve Doocy
FOX & Friends
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