George Graham

Examining Romney’s Big Lie about Medicare

You have to be in awe of the way lies spill out of Mitt Romney’s mouth. Listening to the Republican presidential candidate, I wonder whether he believes that words actually have meanings. He says one thing then another – both mutually contradictory – with that smarmy smirk on his face, and he must know nobody could possibly take him seriously.

The latest Big Lie being peddled by the Romney campaign is about Medicare. Faced with the task of selling running mate Paul Ryan’s toxic voucher plan, Romney resorted yesterday to a Ross Perot-style presentation: He whipped out a whiteboard and drew the press a graph of sorts. Actually, it was more of a table – two columns, one ostensibly showing his (and Ryan’s) Medicare plan, the other (ostensibly) showing President Obama’s.

According to the etch-a-sketch type whiteboard, Romney/Ryan would leave Medicare unscathed while the  president would take more than $700 billion from Medicare to help fund Obamacare.

Not surprisingly, the “facts” in both columns were totally untrue. In fact, Obamacare adds cost-saving benefits for seniors (by closing the Part D doughnut hole, for example). And the Ryan plan slashes benefits (by revoking Obamacare and reinstating the doughnut hole, for example).

Sadly, the “mainstream media” let Romney get away with it. They refrained from yelling, “liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” Instead they attempted to do a “fair and balanced” analysis of his claims. And not being the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, the pundits only succeeded in muddying the water.

So, I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see a clear-eyed rebuttal of Medicare myths among the dross and drivel of the morning’s news offerings. It was distributed by Reuters news agency. Here’s an excerpt:

The Romney-Ryan campaign has trotted out this scary-sounding number ($700 billion) to deflect attention from Ryan’s voucher plan. But it is largely a false claim because it implies that the health reform law slashes benefits.

The Affordable Care Act actually delivers expanded benefits to seniors. It closes the prescription drug donut hole over time, with 3.6 million seniors saving a collective $2.1 billion last year; it also expands preventive services, including an annual wellness visit, mammograms and prostate cancer screenings with no out-of-pocket cost.

Obamacare does cut $700 billion in Medicare spending over a 10-year period. But the cuts are adjustments in payments to Medicare providers, which are mostly meaningless to patients. According to the CBO, the ACA’s 10-year cuts include $415 billion in fee-for-service payments to healthcare providers, $156 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans, $56 billion to hospitals, and $114 billion in other miscellaneous cuts far too numerous to detail here.

¬†Reuters did not mention that since Barack Obama became president, law enforcement has waged a relentless campaign against Medicare fraud, which has resulted in billions of dollars in savings. According to news reports, organized crime has infiltrated and is plundering the Medicare program and Obama’s administration has declared war on the perpetrators.

Watching a TV documentary on this program the other day, I couldn’t help wondering why previous administrations had neglected to address the problem as vigorously. And I got to musing about the fact that a company run by Rick Scott, a Republican who later became Florida’s governor, had paid a billion-dollar fine to settle Medicare fraud charges…

But that’s another story.

Click here to read the Reuters analysis.

Click here for details of the Ryan Medicare plan.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com