Campaign 2010

Sep 18, 2011

FACT CHECK: Paul Ryan Repeats False Claims that Republican Plan Would Save Medicare

Today on Fox News Sunday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI-01) falsely claimed: (1) the House Republican budget would save Medicare; (2) is not voucher program; (3) doesn’t restrict seniors “access to drugs”; and (4) works “like the one we have in Congress.”

In reality, Ryan and House Republicans voted overwhelmingly for a plan that: (1) the Wall Street Journal claimed would “essentially end Medicare”; (2) would turn Medicare into a voucher program; (3) immediately cause seniors to pay more for prescription drugs; and (4) is fundamentally different than the federal health care system Members of Congress have.

FACT CHECK:

The Republican Budget Would End Medicare

  • Wall Street Journal: The House Republican Budget for 2012 Would “Essentially End Medicare.” “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
  • Congressional Research Service: Individuals Would Not Be Able to Enroll in Current Medicare Program. The Congressional Research service (CRS) found that the Republican budget ends Medicare: “Individuals who become eligible (based either on age or disability) for Medicare in 2022 and later years would not be able to enroll in the current Medicare program. Instead, they would be given the option of enrolling in a private insurance plan through a newly established Medicare exchange.” [CRS Report, 4/13/11]
  • NCPSSM: GOP Budget Plan Destroys Medicare and Cuts Social Security Benefits. In April 2011, Max Richtman, executive vice-president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, was quoted in a news release stating that the Republican budget would destroy Medicare. “Over time, this will destroy the only health insurance program available to 47 million Americans,” said Richtman. [NCPSSM press release, 4/5/11]

The Republican Budget Would Turn Medicare into a Voucher Program

  • New York Times Called the Plan a “Voucher Program.” On April 10, 2011, The New York Times described  the Republican’s budget, claiming: “The plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program for future generations and slash spending for the need-based Medicaid program and other domestic initiatives, while largely sparing the Pentagon and cutting $4 trillion more in corporate and high-income taxes.” [New York Times, 4/10/11]
  • The Economist Claimed New Medicare Enrollees Would Receive a “Voucher.” “Mr. Ryan proposes that starting in 2022, new enrollees receive a voucher from the federal government to buy a private plan. (He prefers the term “premium support” to vouchers, but they’re really the same thing.)”  [The Economist, 4/05/11]

The Republican Plan Would Restrict Access to Seniors’ Health Care

  • AARP: Budget Undermines Vital Programs for Older Americans. “Among its provisions, the proposal would drive up costs for people in Medicare, take away needed coverage for long-term care from millions of older and disabled Americans and reduce critical help for seniors facing the threat of hunger.”  [AARP, 4/7/11]
  • Republican Plan Would Affect Current Seniors. “Republicans say their Medicare plan wouldn’t affect anybody near retirement age. But it would. Republicans are convinced that burnishing the public’s view of their unpopular proposal to overhaul Medicare depends on assuring today’s seniors that they won’t be affected […] There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not true. The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the traditional benefit program.” [National Journal, 6/2/11]
  • Under the Republican Budget, Medicare Beneficiaries Would Pay More for Their Prescription Drugs. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under the Republican budget, “important benefits – such as closing the hole in Medicare’s drug coverage – would be immediately eliminated.” The Republican budget would increase prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries who enter the Part D donut hole, forcing them to pay an extra $132 million for drugs over the next decade. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 6/11] 

The Republican Plan is “Fundamentally Different” Than the Plan Members of Congress Receive:

  • NYT: Proposal for Medicare Is Unlike Federal Employee Plan. “House Republicans say their budget proposal would make Medicare work just like the health insurance that covers federal employees, including members of Congress. But a close examination shows the two plans are very different, and the differences help explain why the Republican plan has set off a political uproar.” [NY Times, 5/1/11]
  • Washington Post Called Comparison “False and Misleading.” “During the congressional recess, Rep. Ryan and other Republican lawmakers have been selling their proposal to restructure Medicare with what appears to be a poll-tested phrase: It will be similar to a system ‘just like’ what members of Congress have. The phrase pops up in all sorts of news releases and interviews with members of Congress, as well as no less than five times in the budget plan crafted by Rep. Ryan. […] We think the reference to the health plan for members of Congress gives a false and misleading impression to ordinary people. Two Pinocchios.” [Washington Post, 4/29/11]  
  • PolitiFact Said the Coverage Plans Are “Fundamentally Different.” The Republican’s Medicare proposal included in their budget is “fundamentally different from the kind of employer-provided health insurance that members of Congress receive.” [POLITIFACT, 4/13/11]

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