Difference Between Republicans and Democrats on Medicare: None

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INTERACTIONS

As November approaches, the political debate in this nation is focused on issues parties hope will resonate with voters. All too often, these issues are not central to the ideological differences between the parties, but a reflection of talking points that fire up the base and make an impact in the media. This year, one of these issues that has become a partisan squabble is the alleged $716 billion the Democrats took from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care law. The allegation is that the Democrats are raiding Medicare and the elderly to pay for their own pet program. The truth is that the difference between Republicans and Democrats on Medicare is none. According to CNN, Paul Ryan said:

“Here’s what the president won’t tell you about his Medicare plan, about Obamacare. The president raids $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program.”

President Obama’s campaign has defended against this oblique attack on Obamacare by pointing out the details of the estimate, and that the Ryan plan would do the same thing. According to CNN, Lis Smith, a campaign spokesperson:

“The savings his ad attacks do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit, and Mitt Romney embraced the very same savings when he promised he’d sign Paul Ryan’s budget.”

What are the facts surrounding this contested $716 billion? The number itself comes from  CBO estimate, which found that:

“[With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act] Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period.”

The number itself is correct. As a result of Obamacare, $716 billion less will be going to various parts of the Medicare program. This could be considered a cut, or slowing the growth of a program. Kaiser Health News has the details:

“[B]efore the health law was passed, Medicare was expected to grow by 6.8 percent a year for 2010 through 2019.  With the health law, that yearly growth rate is projected to be 5.6 percent during that same time frame, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

The claim that the elderly will now receive less money than before is misleading. The “cut” was simply the adjustment to the budget based on the changes in the Affordable Care Act. In short, the cuts are not directed at benefits to the elderly. The details demonstrate that the “cuts” are a mixed bag. Kaiser Health News continues:

“The July report from CBO and JCT — in explaining where some of the biggest reductions would occur –found that hospital reimbursements would be reduced by $260 billion from 2013-2022, while federal payments to Medicare Advantage, the private insurance plans in Medicare, would be cut by approximately $156 billion.  Other Medicare spending reductions include $39 billion less for skilled nursing services; $66 billion less for home health and $17 billion less for hospice. The law does not make any cuts to the amount of benefits beneficiaries receive…”

While  the rate of growth will slow, what has traditionally been classified as Medicare spending will continue to expand under Obamacare. It may very well be true that the money will not go to the exact same recipients as the Medicare funding would have, but it will still go to the administration of another health care system.

If Republicans oppose government-run healthcare, they should oppose both Obamacare and Medicare. The massive divide on principles and policy that the two-party system wants to portray does not exist, and the debate over $716 billion exemplifies the shallowness of debate. This is because the $716 billion is simply a “disagreement” between the Democrats and Republicans over which account the debit card should have access to.

Romney and Obama are fighting over which entitlement health care program will receive the money. Both parties believe in government-run health care. Elections are held to find out who will run it. In a battle with billions at stake, at least they should be fair and honest when making representations to the American voters.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. Mary Tickler Moriarity There is a huge difference...vouchers and Medicaid cuts will screw the elderly! Wake up seniors!!!
  2. Patty Blakeman in Connecticut we deregulated utilities...prices skyrocketed, quality plummeted, and customer service is now a memory. I see a voucher plan the same way as store mark downs, up the price [.of insurance] 40% and give a coupon voucher for 30% off. Only the beneficiaries lose.
  3. Ernie Knopp Romney would run the country like one of his businesss bankrupt it then sell the pieces to china lineing his pockets
  4. Frank Casella The biggest aggravation is the dishonesty underlying the process. Taxes are evil, so lets cut expense while maintaining benefits. The problem with this is that everything has a cost. So in essence, rather than raising the medicare tax, we instead pass this expense along to another entity that collects money on the government's behalf. Payments to hospitals from medicare decrease so payments to hospitals from other sources increase, in effect subsidizing the entitlement program. I just want a government limited to essential functions and honestly disclosing the costs.
  5. Dave MacDonald The Republicans want to protect the insurance companies and providers and the Democrats want to protect the beneficiaries,
  6. Edward Theilmann If Americans would wake up and start supporting other political parties and independents they wouldn't have the lousy government they get from democrats and republicans but they are so blind they don't see this and get the lousy government they deserve .
  7. Matthias P. Mathe Really though...Clinton talking about the Dem plan will add a whole four years onto the solvency of medicare which is predicted to die four years from now!?! Yay. Thanks for nothing "leaders."
  8. Eddie Denise The difference is what makes up each side's 716 billion.
  9. jericho Apparently, they haven't been doing a good job either, seeing as how the nation is no better off than it was years ago.
  10. jericho You're using the old Paul Ryan plan. The new one that Ryan is toting and that Romney has indicated he might use doesn't make any changes to Medicare for those who are 55 years or older and those who are younger than 55 will have the option of receiving the same type of service that people under the current plan get, or they can choose to participate in a voucher system.
26 comments
Mary Tickler Moriarity
Mary Tickler Moriarity

There is a huge difference...vouchers and Medicaid cuts will screw the elderly! Wake up seniors!!!

Patty Blakeman
Patty Blakeman

in Connecticut we deregulated utilities...prices skyrocketed, quality plummeted, and customer service is now a memory. I see a voucher plan the same way as store mark downs, up the price [.of insurance] 40% and give a coupon voucher for 30% off. Only the beneficiaries lose.

Ernie Knopp
Ernie Knopp

Romney would run the country like one of his businesss bankrupt it then sell the pieces to china lineing his pockets

Frank Casella
Frank Casella

The biggest aggravation is the dishonesty underlying the process. Taxes are evil, so lets cut expense while maintaining benefits. The problem with this is that everything has a cost. So in essence, rather than raising the medicare tax, we instead pass this expense along to another entity that collects money on the government's behalf. Payments to hospitals from medicare decrease so payments to hospitals from other sources increase, in effect subsidizing the entitlement program. I just want a government limited to essential functions and honestly disclosing the costs.

Dave MacDonald
Dave MacDonald

The Republicans want to protect the insurance companies and providers and the Democrats want to protect the beneficiaries,

Edward Theilmann
Edward Theilmann

If Americans would wake up and start supporting other political parties and independents they wouldn't have the lousy government they get from democrats and republicans but they are so blind they don't see this and get the lousy government they deserve .

Matthias P. Mathe
Matthias P. Mathe

Really though...Clinton talking about the Dem plan will add a whole four years onto the solvency of medicare which is predicted to die four years from now!?! Yay. Thanks for nothing "leaders."

Eddie Denise
Eddie Denise

The difference is what makes up each side's 716 billion.

Justin Boone
Justin Boone

The 716 billion is just one issue. The idea that the two party's approaches are "the same" is complete jibberish.

Kathy Jones
Kathy Jones

Why people think the government spends their money wisely is beyond me. And I agree they are both the same.

Sebastian Aziz
Sebastian Aziz

What I found interesting in President Clinton's speech last night was that he made the case for Bill Clinton's policies - which actually worked a lot better under his Administration. Barack Obama needs to put aside his excessive pride, which seems to dominate him, and perhaps listen to some of Clinton's suggestions and ponder on some of his examples.

Bill Jurkovich
Bill Jurkovich

The difference is who the $716 mil. comes from and where it goes.

Jennifer Chambless
Jennifer Chambless

The only difference in the two is the name. Romneycare vs. Obamacare. One in the same.

Chad Kittrell
Chad Kittrell

Both acknowledge that changes and cuts need to be made, then both accuse the other of making cuts and changes.....sigh

Michael A. Keough
Michael A. Keough

In my view Meet The Press and alike Should Run a Series of Episodes Called "Beat The Mess - Alternative Candidates Badly Needed" - We Need Bona Fide "Leaders" and Not "Misleaders"!

Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

well worded article. Entitlements are the untouchable Third Rail and grew among Democratic and Republican presidents and Congresses. Without fighting to remove what is already in place, they are arguing over how to save money that will be spent regardless.

Aster George
Aster George

Fair and honest representations by democratic or republican politicians! Now that would be a novelty wouldn't it?!!

P. McCauley
P. McCauley

As a healthcare professional that speaks with people from every socio-economic class one thing is clear. The current system is not working, if it stays the same our country will fail economically. Medications cost us billions of dollars, and people unable to take medications they need also costs in the range of millions to billions of dollars. We are the largest consumer of medications in the world. We need to negotiate the price medications with that in mind. If we negotiated oil prices like we do drug prices... most of us would be riding bicycles. If congress were run by independents that didn't need party loyalty to get elected - when Medicare Ppart D was passed, there would have been a negotiation of drug prices for the part of our population more likely to be on a fixed income.

William Boardman
William Boardman

Not really.

Obamacare certainly touched entitlements, $716 billion worth.

But at the expense of insurance companies et al, not beneficiaries.

The real fault line is between who wants to eliminate broad social programs (Republicans, typically covertly) and who wants to preserve or expand them (mostly Democrats).

And that comes down to the sort of country we want to have.

William Boardman
William Boardman

Broad brush cynicism is too easy. There are decent people around, even in politics.

William Boardman
William Boardman

The scandal of Medicare Part D was not only that it was unfunded, but that Republicans insisted that the government have no leverage to negotiate drug prices. That was a Republican president and a Republican Congress saying take it or leave it. Resistance beyond the two parties was negligible to non-existent.

jericho
jericho

You're using the old Paul Ryan plan. The new one that Ryan is toting and that Romney has indicated he might use doesn't make any changes to Medicare for those who are 55 years or older and those who are younger than 55 will have the option of receiving the same type of service that people under the current plan get, or they can choose to participate in a voucher system.

Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

That's the distinction. Entitlement benefits are untouchable and anyone who says that they will eliminate or change them will face a Sisyphean uphill climb to win election. Aside from Ryan's voucher system, take a look at what happens to the "Donut Hole" under Romney's healthcare model.

jericho
jericho

Apparently, they haven't been doing a good job either, seeing as how the nation is no better off than it was years ago.