Snap Fact #284
President Obama Has Strengthened Medicare: Republicans Have Totally Distorted His Achievement!


With the immediate backlash of seniors to Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his Vice- Presidential candidate and the accusations that Paul Ryan, and by extension, Romney himself are the death knell of Medicare as we know it, the Republican talk machine has gone on the offence by distorting President Obama’s position on Medicare and recycling an old discredited attack to do it.

The real assault on Medicare, according to Romney and his allies, comes from President Obama, because Obamacare calls for $716 billion in cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years. Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus, said when he appeared on Meet the Press on 8/12/12, “Obama stole $716 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama. He’s the one that’s destroying Medicare.” The deception associated with these statements is obvious to everyone who has knowledge of this subject.

In the first place, the $716 billion cuts are really savings that will be achieved over the next 10 years through reduced provider reimbursement rates for hospitals, drug makers, and insurers as well as curbs on waste, fraud, and abuse. Benefits are not cut. In fact, Obama’s Medicare reforms expand benefits for seniors and lowers out-of -pocket costs by closing the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole” and expands free preventive services, including annual wellness visits and some cancer screenings.
Secondly, Ryan’s own budget, which nearly every House Republican voted to pass and which Romney has said that he would sign as president, leaves those same Medicare cuts in place. So, the Romney campaign is attacking a proposal that Romney and his Republican colleagues endorse. There seems to be some huge hypocrisy here!
Indeed, there are differences in how the two sides use this $716 billion savings. Obamacare puts the money back into the pockets of people who need help with their medical bills. As mentioned above, some of the savings in Obamacare will be utilized for seniors.The department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 16 million seniors have already taken advantage of the free preventative care provision. Starting in 2014, a portion of the money is also earmarked for children and non-elderly Americans who will become eligible for Medicaid or receive tax credits to offset the cost of private insurance.

In the Ryan budget, which is endorsed by Romney, the savings are just taken away and would be used for other purposes. The ‘donut hole” will open again. Access to free preventative care would vanish, and the savings might be used to fund new tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. So one can ask Reince Priebus, who is really destroying Medicare and/or taking away benefits to seniors to further feather the nests of the wealthy?

When President Obama heard about the canard that the Republicans were propagating while he was campaigning in Idaho he indicated that, “My plan has already extended Medicare by nearly a decade. Their plan ends Medicare as we know it. My plan reduces the cost of Medicare by cracking down on fraud, and waste, and subsidies to insurance companies. Their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. That’s the difference between our plans on Medicare.”

An interesting twist has recently developed when Mitt Romney’s promised to restore the Medicare cuts made by President Obama during a campaign stop in Beallsville, Ohio on 8/14/12. Since no benefits were cut, Romney must be planning to eliminate the $716 billion savings by revoking any reduction in provider reimbursement rates and by eliminating the curbs on waste, fraud, and abuse. In addition, since the Obama cuts extended the life of Medicare’s trust fund, it is estimated that Romney’s restoration would cause the trust fund to go broke by 2016. Perhaps it’s time to keep questioning Reince Priebus, and his fellow distorters of the truth, about who is really destroying Medicare.