Canard Watch: ‘Obama Gutted Medicare’

by Mark Wilson

Mittens Romney, two days ago:

My plan, like his, really expands Medicare Advantage. It says, let’s give people more opportunity to take advantage of not just the standard Medicare, but also the policies that are available in the marketplace.

Romney was talking about how both “his” plan (really Paul Ryan’s plan) and Ryan’s plan would (essentially) expand Medicare Advantage by phasing out “traditional” Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system. Medicare Advantage does the same thing.

How’s that going? Paul Krugman, 2011:

By the way, we have direct evidence about the higher costs of private insurance via the Medicare Advantage program, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to get their coverage through the private sector. This was supposed to save money; in fact, the program costs taxpayers substantially more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

The official Republican talking point for this week is that Obama will “cut” $700 billion from Medicare. The Washington Post pointed out that it will do just that, except not in the way Romney would like to scare seniors (who generally vote Republican already) into believing:

It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to. And, as Ezra pointed out earlier today, the Ryan budget would keep these cuts in place.

The $700 billion in cuts — which are not “cuts” but the very cost savings that so-called fiscal conservatives like Ryan allege themselves to like — comes from reimbursements to hospitals and private health insurance plans, not by cutting Grandma’s benefits.

As it turns out, privatizing Medicare, which is the end result of Paul Ryan’s major policy achievement, would cost beneficiaries more out of pocket. Romney & Ryan propose nothing less than a transfer of the Medicare burden off the government’s books and onto the beneficiaries themselves. That way, they can proclaim they’re reigning in spending. But they can’t, at the same time, pretend that they’re doing their putative constituents a favor.