Here’s an old song I’m sure you have heard before – Mitt Romney is a liar! See? You’re all shaking your heads in agreement.
Well, I here’s another verse to add to our little song. We have all the new claim from Mitt Romney that President Obama has “stolen” $700 billion from Medicare. Well PolitiFact checked into these claims and found…shockingly…that Mitt Romney is a liar!
Here’s how Romney put it in an interview with 60 Minutes shortly after selecting Ryan:
“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare.”
Here, we’re checking whether Obama “robbed” Medicare of $716 billion dollars to pay for Obamacare.
$700 billion from Medicare?
The claim that Obama cut $700 billion out of Medicare is relatively new. Not long ago, the oft-cited number was $500 billion. How did he manage to cut another $200 billion when no one was looking?
First things first: Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget.
Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years.
What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.
Hospitals, too, will be paid less if they have too many re-admissions, or if they fail to meet other new benchmarks for patient care.
Obama and fellow Democrats say the intention is to protect beneficiaries’ coverage while forcing health care providers to become more efficient.
And Romney’s claim that President Obama is the only president in history to deal with Medicare? This is what PolitiFact found:
“We reviewed this history in detail in a fact-check of Romney’s statement from December, “Only one president has ever cut Medicare for seniors in this country . . . Barack Obama.” We rated that False. Many presidents have sought to rein in Medicare spending.
Here are a few highlights from that fact-check:
• President Ronald Reagan cut Medicare by reducing payments to hospitals, and he cut benefits by raising deductibles.
• President George H.W. Bush cut benefits by repealing a law that would have expanded coverage for drugs and catastrophic illness.
• President Bill Clinton cut Medicare by changing payments to doctors and other providers, which could be considered to have an indirect effect on beneficiaries.”