Fox News' The Five went to bat for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan by defending his controversial and harmful proposed changes to Medicare while reviving the myth that Obama's health care law will create a review board to ration health care.
The Five's Hosts Claim Ryan's Medicare Plan Will Not Affect Seniors
Guilfoyle: Ryan “Is Not Trying To Hurt Or Take Anything Away From Anybody That Is Over 55.” On the August 14 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle touted Ryan's “courage” for putting forth a plan that doesn't “hurt or take anything away from anybody that is over 55”:
GUILFOYLE: Paul Ryan had the courage to put forth his plan. Good for him, because he's in it to save and work for the American people, not about his own political career. And he makes it very clear, he's not trying to hurt or take anything away from anybody that is over 55, OK? [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/12]
Perino: Ryan Plan “Doesn't Even Affect Anybody That Is Currently 55 Or Under” And “Preserves The Program In The Future.” Co-host Dana Perino suggested that Paul Ryan's Medicare plan will not affect current or future seniors:
PERINO: If you're 53 years old and you know that you're going to have the current plan -- so it doesn't even affect anybody that is currently 55 or under -- or by the time it gets past 53 and under -- but it preserves the program in the future for the people that are under 55 and for your children. [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/12]
However, Ryan's Plan Adversely Affects Current And Future Seniors
Bloomberg Businessweek: The Ryan Budget Would “Require Seniors To Pay More Out Of Their Own Pocket” For Medicare Services. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Ryan's budget would convert Medicare from a defined benefit program to a voucher system that would provide seniors with a fixed sum to buy private insurance, a sum that probably wouldn't keep pace with rising health-care costs and would therefore require seniors to pay more out of their own pocket.” [Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/13/12]
Ryan Budget Would Raise Many Current Seniors' Prescription Drug Costs. In a March 28 report, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found that the Ryan budget's repeal of the Affordable Care Act's “doughnut hole” fix would “adversely affect current Medicare beneficiaries as well as those not yet eligible.” The report explained:
Health reform has begun to close the doughnut hole -- the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage that many seniors experienced once their annual drug costs exceeded $2,840. Before health reform, seniors had no additional coverage until their costs hit $6,448. Last year, seniors who were in the coverage gap received a 50-percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 7-percent discount on generic prescription drugs. This year, the generic discount jumps to 14 percent. Due to these improvements, five million Medicare beneficiaries have saved more than $3.2 billion, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Health reform will close the entire donut hole by 2020. The Ryan budget would reopen it. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12]
CBPP: Ryan Plan Would Force Medicare To Raise Premiums, Which Would Make It “Less Financially Viable.” CBPP economist and senior fellow Paul Van de Water wrote that Ryan's plans for Medicare could lead to traditional Medicare unraveling:
Chairman Ryan claims that his proposal “ensur[es] that traditional Medicare remains an option.” Unfortunately, that's not the case. 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.
Inadequate risk adjustment would mean that traditional Medicare would be only partially compensated for its higher-cost enrollees, which would force Medicare to raise beneficiary premiums to make up the difference. The higher premiums would lead more of Medicare's healthier enrollees to abandon it for private plans, very possibly setting off a spiral of rising premium costs and falling enrollment for traditional Medicare. Over time, traditional Medicare would become less financially viable and could unravel -- not because it was less efficient than the private plans, but because it was competing on an unlevel playing field in which private plans captured the healthier beneficiaries and incurred lower costs as a result. Ryan also would allow private plans to tailor their benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and deter sicker ones, which only makes this outcome more likely. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/28/12]
For more on how Ryan's Medicare plan would affect seniors, click here.
The Five Hosts Suggest Ryan Is Trying To Save Medicare
Perino: Ryan Plan “Is A Way To Preserve Medicare Going Forward.” Co-host Dana Perino said she is a “fan” of Ryan's budget plan after reading about it because “it is a way to preserve Medicare going forward”:
PERINO: Talking about the specifics of this, it is not easy to understand. I have done a lot of reading about this and now I am a bigger fan of the Ryan plan than ever because I actually think -- it is a way to preserve Medicare going forward. [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/12]
Tantaros: "[Paul Ryan] Is Not Trying To Cut Medicare, He Is Trying To Save It." Co-host Andrea Tantaros suggested Paul Ryan's Medicare plan has been “misrepresented” by Democrats. Tantaros went on to suggests Ryan “is not trying to cut Medicare, he is trying to save it.” From the show:
TANTAROS: I think people are finally relieved that there is someone with the political courage to have this discussion. No one has had the guts to do it until Paul Ryan actually came along.
TANTAROS: [Ryan] is able to explain and clarify his position that has been so misrepresented, which is: He is not trying to cut Medicare, he is trying to save it. [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/12]
But Ryan's Budget Would End Medicare As We Know It ...
Jonathan Cohn: “Ryan Really Believes In Ending Medicare As We Know It.” New Republic blogger and health care journalist Jonathan Cohn wrote that Ryan's plan would end Medicare in its current form by eliminating the program's guarantee of comprehensive medical benefits while raising the eligibility age and producing vouchers that will quickly prove inadequate to allow seniors to purchase the care they need:
The essential promise of Medicare, ever since its establishment in 1965, is that every senior citizen is entitled to a comprehensive set of medical benefits that will protect him or her from financial ruin. The government provides these benefits directly, through a public insurance program, although seniors have the right to enroll in comparable private plans if they choose. But the key is that guarantee of benefits, and it's what Ryan would take away. He would replace it with a voucher, whose value would rise at a pre-determined formula unlikely to keep up with actual medical expenses.
Ryan's early proposals had no safeguards to make sure the voucher was adequate. His most recent one has safeguards, a more reasonable spending line, and preserves the government-run plan as an option. But the safeguards are weak, at best, and the government-run program would struggle to survive. Over time, more and more seniors would find the voucher too small to buy the insurance they need. [The New Republic, 8/11/12]
CBPP: Ryan Would Divide Health System Into “Two Tiers: Those Who Could Afford The Care They Need Would Get It” And Many Others Who Would Not. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities vice president Edwin Park wrote that the “Ryan budget would divide our health system into a distinct two tiers: those who could afford the care they need would get it; many others would not.” [NYTimes.com, 5/7/12]
Ryan's Plan Would Detrimentally Affect Today's Seniors. Conservative media have argued that Ryan's plan has no effect on people 55 or over. In fact, Ryan's budget would raise the cost of health care for today's seniors by forcing them to pay thousands of dollars more for prescription drugs, creating a voucher system that would drive health care costs higher, and sharply cutting Medicaid, a program heavily utilized by seniors. [Media Matters, 8/13/12]
... And His Medicaid Plan Would Hurt Seniors' Care While Leaving Millions Of Other Americans Uninsured
NSCLC: Millions Of Seniors Use Medicaid. In an April 2011 report the National Senior Citizen Law Center noted that millions of seniors also receive care through Medicaid and would be affected by the cuts proposed by Ryan's budget:
Medicaid is not only a program for low-income older adults. It also provides middle class individuals who have impoverished themselves with long-term care benefits. Medicaid provides financing for long term care in nursing homes for some 1.3 million people aged 65 and over and long term services and supports for 4.8 million in the community. The nearly 9 million people 65 and over (and countless families) it helps range from those living at or close to the federal poverty level to those in the middle class. [NSCLC, April 2011]
Krugman: “14 Million Is The Minimum Number Of People Who Would Lose Health Insurance” From Ryan's Medicaid Cuts. In his New York Times blog, economist Paul Krugman wrote that Ryan budget's cuts to Medicaid would cause millions to lose health insurance:
14 million is the minimum number of people who would lose health insurance due to Medicaid cuts -- the Urban Institute, working off the very similar plan Ryan unveiled last year, puts it at between 14 and 27 million people losing Medicaid.
That's a lot of people -- and a lot of suffering. [The New York Times, The Conscience of a Liberal, 4/6/12]
CBPP: Ryan Plan Would “Add Tens Of Millions Of Americans To The Ranks Of The Uninsured.” A post on CBPP's “Off the Charts” blog stated that Ryan budget's proposal to restructure Medicaid into block grants “would add tens of millions of Americans to the ranks of the uninsured.” The post also said that Ryan's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion “means that 17 million” more people would not receive health insurance. The post continued:
The block grant would cut federal Medicaid spending by $810 billion over the next ten years (2013-2022). That would be a cut of about 22 percent compared to current law. (This doesn't count the loss of the large additional funding that states would receive to expand Medicaid under health reform.)
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Off the Charts, 3/20/12]
The Five Revives “Scary” Health Care Rationing Claims
Tantaros: The Independent Payment Advisory Board “Will Be Deciding What Procedures People Can Get And What They Can't.” Co-host Andrea Tantaros revived claims that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the health care law will ration health care for people on Medicare. Tantaros said IPAB should “frighten every single person in this country”:
TANTAROS: Can I just quickly remark how they are going to lower those cost though? This is something that the public hasn't heard a lot about. It's called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It's a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats appointed by President Obama. These aren't health care professionals, these are professors, and the intelligencia, and they will unilaterally decide what -- and this is the exact quote -- cost containment issues are in the Medicare system. They will be deciding what procedures people can get and what they can't. They are specifically designated to cost cut. That's how they do it.
TANTAROS: If doctors don't think they're going to get reimbursed, they're not going to treat you. So what does this do? This pits insurance companies against each other to give Medicare recipients the best possible deal. That panel of individuals is so scary, Bob, it should frighten every single person in this country.
BOB BECKEL (co-host): First of all, you are starting to sound like Sarah Palin now, you are much smarter than that. [Fox News, The Five, 8/14/12]
In Fact, IPAB Is Specifically Prohibited From Making “Any Recommendations To Ration Health Care”
Law Specifically Prohibits Advisory Board From Making “Any Recommendations To Ration Health Care ... Or Otherwise Restrict Benefits.” As Media Matters has noted, the health care law specifically prohibits the Independent Payment Advisory Board from making “any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits.” [Media Matters, 10/12/10; Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed, 4/21/11]
White House: “IPAB Is Specifically Prohibited By Law From Recommending Any Policies That Ration Care.” In an April 20 blog post on the White House website, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle wrote that the "IPAB is specifically prohibited by law from recommending any policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums or cost-sharing, restrict benefits or modify who is eligible for Medicare." [WhiteHouse.gov, 4/20/11]
Kaiser Family Foundation: Board Cannot “Ration Care, Increase Taxes, Change Medicare Benefits Or Eligibility, Increase Beneficiary Premiums And Cost-Sharing Requirement, Or Reduce Low Income Subsidies Under Part D.” From the Kaiser Family Foundation's “Explaining Health Reform: Medicare and the New Independent Payment Advisory Board”:
The Board is prohibited from submitting proposals that would ration care, increase taxes, change Medicare benefits or eligibility, increase beneficiary premiums and cost-sharing requirements, or reduce low-income subsidies under Part D. Prior to 2019, the Board is also prohibited from recommending changes in payments to providers and suppliers that are scheduled to receive a reduction in their payment updates in excess of a reduction due to productivity adjustments, as specified in the health reform law. The law establishes specific rules and deadlines for Congressional consideration of the Board's recommendations, and specific timelines and procedures for Congressional action on alternative proposals to achieve equivalent savings.[Kaiser Family Foundation, Explaining Health Reform: Medicare and the New Independent Payment Advisory Board, 5/10/10]