Lies during bebate, but it wasn't Romney. Does reality matter to Obama supporters?
1. Obamacare’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts reduce benefits
Here’s what President Obama said about the $716 billion in Medicare cuts enacted within Obamacare: “$716 billion we were able to save from the Medicare program by no longer overpaying insurance companies by making sure that we weren’t overpaying providers. And using that money, we were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600, and we were also able to make a—make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money throughout the system.”
Um, no. As I discussed on Tuesday, the “donut hole” closure imposed by Obamacare only affects 6 percent of seniors. Furthermore, Obamacare’s new spending on prescription drugs and preventive care is offset by a far greater amount of cuts. The cuts outweigh the new spending by a ratio of fifteen to one.
Romney hit that point. “That’s $1 for every $15 you’ve cut. They’re smart enough to know that’s not a good trade. I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is, in my opinion, a mistake
2. Romney’s Medicare plan doesn’t expose seniors to higher costs
President Obama tried, once again, to mislead voters about Romney’s Medicare plan. “The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance. The problem is that because the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.”That’s an improvement from what Obama has said on the campaign trail, when he has claimed that Romney’s plan would cost seniors $6,000 a year. Indeed, Obama anticipated that he would get push-back on this point: “Now, in fairness,” he said, “what Governor Romney has now said is he’ll maintain traditional Medicare alongside it. But there’s still a problem, because what happens is, those insurance companies are pretty clever at figuring out who are the younger and healthier seniors. They recruit them, leaving the older, sicker seniors in Medicare. And every health care economist that looks at it says, over time, what’ll happen is the traditional Medicare system will collapse.”
No. That isn’t what “every health care economist” has said. Democrat-aligned health economists who support the President, like David Cutler, have argued that Romney’s plan would incentivize insurers to cherry-pick healthier seniors. But right-of-center economists, such as James Capretta, Steve Parente, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, disagree.
But it’s not just right-of-center economists who disagree. David Cutler himself has argued in favor of Romney’s approach to Medicare reform, according to White House e-mails unearthed by Meghan McCarthy of National Journal. And there’s another irony: if Obama thinks risk-adjustment and premium support is so horrible for seniors, why did he impose it on 25 million low-income Americans through Obamacare?
3. Medicare is less efficient than private insurance
President Obama delivered this whopper regarding Medicare: “Every study has shown that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does, which is why seniors are generally pretty happy with it. And private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that. That’s what they do. And so you’ve got higher administrative costs, plus profit on top of that. And if you are going to save any money through what Governor Romney’s proposing, what has to happen is, is that the money has to come from somewhere.”
False. Indeed, the most persuasive research on Medicare’s administrative costs comes from my Apothecary colleague Robert Book, who notes that (1) half of Medicare’s administrative costs are booked by other federal agencies; and (2) On a per-beneficiary basis, despite this advantage, Medicare spends more on administrative costs than private plans do
Obama continued: “And when you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies. And over time, if traditional Medicare has decayed or fallen apart, then they’re stuck. And this is the reason why AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially. And that’s why they were supportive of the approach that we took.”
Well. As I note above, the “voucher system” that Obama decries for seniors is precisely what he imposed on 25 million low-income Americans. As to the AARP, the AARP has made $2.8 billion in extra profits due to Obama’s back-room dealings with AARP. So it’s not surprising that AARP supports Obamacare.Most importantly, as Romney pointed out, if government-run Medicare is indeed more efficient than privately-administered Medicare, then the “public option” would win out under Romney’s competitive bidding system. “The President said that the government can provide the service at lower cost and without a profit,” said Romney. “If that’s the case then it will always be the best product that people can purchase.” Exactly. Under a competitive bidding system, if the public option is more efficient, that’s the plan that most seniors will choose. If not, not.
4. Obamacare increases insurance premiums
Romney pointed out: “And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that, by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it’s gone up by that amount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families. So that’s one reason I don’t want it.”
Here’s the video describing Obama repeatedly making that promise about the $2,500 in premium reductions
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