Fox News guest and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the Affordable Care Act will harm the elderly “by eviscerating Medicare.” In reality, the ACA does not cut Medicare benefits, and the law actually strengthens aspects of the program.
On the October 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, McCaughey claimed that the ACA “is designed to vastly expand Medicaid and pay for it by eviscerating Medicare,” which she likened to “robbing Grandma to spread the wealth”:
MCCAUGHEY: This law, as written, is designed to vastly expand Medicaid and pay for it by eviscerating Medicare, taking $700 billion out of Medicare and moving it over to fund this expansion of this entitlement. It's like robbing Grandma to spread the wealth.
KELLY: Why would they want to vastly expand Medicaid?
MCCAUGHEY: Because they believe in a single payer system, and Medicaid is a single payer system. This is a way of vastly shifting resources in this country from one group of people, the elderly, to another group of people.
However, the ACA actually strengthens Medicare without cutting benefits. The Washington Post's Wonkblog explained that the majority of cuts to Medicare “come from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies,” but made clear that “there's one area these cuts don't touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to.”
In addition to ensuring that Medicare benefits will not be reduced, the health care law includes additional 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”:
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.