The Big Lie: Romney and Ryan’s plan to repeal Obamacare means there will be no benefit cuts to anyone 55 or over.
The Truth: Romney and Ryan’s Medicare plan cuts benefits to current seniors and promises massive benefit cuts to follow.
The only honesty you can expect from the Romney campaign between now and November 6 is when they tell reporters that giving any more details on their Medicare plan would be “suicidal.” The lesson Mitt believes he learned when he lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994 is that details don’t help. They cost you votes and they cost you elections. And in this case Mitt Romney could not be more correct.
By choosing Paul Ryan, he made Medicare the central issue in the campaign. Since then they have both blasted the president for more than $700 millions in savings to Medicare that were passed in the Affordable Care Act and affirmed later in Paul Ryan’s own House Republican budget. Meanwhile, Romney has promised seniors that his plan includes “no adjustments, no changes, no savings.” If that’s true, Mitt is also promising to bankrupt Medicare by the end of his first term, which is what the Medicare Trustees say would happen if Obamacare is repealed.
This is one just one of many details of the Romney Medicare plan that he’ll never mention.
Killing ObamaCare will also eliminate two specific benefits to seniors: a $250 rebate on prescription drugs that helps millions and free preventive care for all.
That is a benefit cut.
Then with Medicare set to go bankrupt Mitt will have to make cuts to current Medicare beneficiaries or let the program go bankrupt. What will Mitt do? His advisors have floated upping the retirement age or making Medicare, which is already means tested, even more means tested.
That is a benefit cut.
Both Romney and Ryan promise huge cuts for Medicaid, which help the most vulnerable seniors unable to afford Medicare copays and nursing homes.
That is another HUGE benefit cut.
Romney and Ryan promise that everyone who is 55 or older can keep current Medicare. What they don’t mention is that they will have to decrease benefits in order to forestall bankruptcy. Everyone under 55 will receive a voucher that will cover only a fraction of their insurance, costing seniors an estimated $6,000 a year more for what current beneficiaries are already getting.
This is obviously another huge benefit cut.
Romney/Ryan apologists like the New York Times’ David Brooks look at the nominees’ plan to turn Medicare into a “premium support” program and ignore the unknown costs of such a plan. Brooks writes, wrongly, that “the burden for paying for basic health care would fall on the government, not on older Americans.” The fact is that Americans who have been paying into Medicare since 1966 should be very afraid that the benefits they’ve been promised will deteriorate rapidly if the Romney/Ryan plan is put into effect.
All the evidence we have suggests that benefits will be reduced if Republicans get their way. Romney has said that his plan is very similar to the privately-operated Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage currently overpays about $2,000 per beneficary compared to traditional Medicare. And there’s no evidence that the “competition fairy” will decrease costs, no matter how many times the GOP conjures it. Who will pick up the extra costs of a less efficient system?
This will amount to another HUGE benefit cut, too, when the costs are picked up by seniors.
Romney and Ryan have to either lie or obfuscate when it comes to Medicare because their plan is simple: Cuts to current seniors along with inefficiencies that speed up Medicare’s bankruptcy followed by huge benefit cuts to future seniors.
That’s their central campaign theme. Just don’t expect them to ever mention it.
Picture by AP Photo/Charles Dhaparak