President Obama’s supporters have unleashed a barrage of falsehoods and half-truths about the Medicare reform plans offered by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. When confronted with Medi-Scare demagoguery, it helps to have a handy guide of rebuttals that are concise, easy to state, easy to grasp. I have taken a crack at preparing such a guide. It takes information supplied by some of the top experts in the country and distills it into bite-sized bits. And, unlike the Medi-Scare talking points, this information has the added bonus of being true. By mastering just a few facts, you will soon be able to convince even the most paranoid grandmother that Paul Ryan has no intention of pushing her off a cliff.
Medi-Scare Talking Point No. 1: GOP Medicare reforms would hurt current seniors.
Rebuttal: False. The reforms would not apply to current seniors or anyone who would become a senior citizen in the near future. The Ryan Plan would not apply to anyone over 54.
Medi-Scare Talking Point No. 2: Romney and Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it.”
Rebuttal: False. People who become senior citizens in the future, after the reforms finally do go into effect, would be guaranteed the ability to buy a fully subsidized plan with the same benefits that Medicare offers today. There would be more choice and competition, though. If some future seniors wanted to buy simpler plans that cost less than the Medicare subsidy, they could do so and pocket the savings; if others wanted to buy more elaborate plans that cost more, they could use their own funds to pay the excess.
Medi-Scare Talking Point No. 3: Republicans are lying when they say President Obama cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare.
Rebuttal: Don’t argue with me, argue with President Obama. He admitted in 2009 that Obamacare would indeed cut Medicare to supply a third of Obamacare’s funding. You can also argue with the liberal Washington Post, which details how Obamacare cuts $716 billion that otherwise would have gone to Medicare and diverts it to Obamacare.
Medi-Scare Talking Point No. 4: The $716 billion in Medicare “savings” under Obamacare mostly comes from eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.
Rebuttal: If you believe that government can eliminate waste, fraud and abuse simply by passing a law, then you’ve got a great deal of faith in government — and you’re probably going to vote for Obama. But as Charles Krauthammer might ask: If government has the power to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse by passing a law, why didn’t they pass that law a long time ago?
Medi-Scare Talking Point No. 5: The Medicare cuts that are used to fund Obamacare affect payments to doctors and hospitals, not seniors. These cuts will not affect seniors’ health care.
Rebuttal: If you believe that Medicare can cut hundreds of billions in reimbursements to doctors and hospitals without affecting the services provided to seniors, then you probably flunked Economics — and you’re probably going to vote for Obama. This is how Fred Thompson once mocked Democratic proposals to increase taxes only on the “rich”: “They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the ‘other’ side of the bucket.” The same logic applies here. Despite the president’s claim that no Medicare benefits will be affected by Obamacare, the Obamacare cuts to Medicare will actually have a very significant impact on access to health care and quality of care for current — and future — seniors. Our experience with Medicaid proves the obvious: If you underpay health care providers, they’ll stop providing service.
Second rebuttal: Another way that Obamacare hurts current (and future) seniors is through the Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB, as it’s known, will enforce cost-cutting on Medicare by determining which treatments will be paid for — and which will not.
Third rebuttal: Yet another way that Obamacare hurts current seniors is by cutting the popular Medicare Advantage program, a market-based program that almost 25 percent of seniors participate in. Healthcare experts Robert Book and Jim Capretta found that “Medicare beneficiaries who would have enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program under prior law will lose an average of $3,714 in 2017 health care services.”