The Corner

Obama Camp Falsely Claims Study Is about Romney Medicare Plan

The Obama campaign is blasting out a new study on Medicare from the Kaiser Family Foundation. From the Obama campaign’s blog post (emphasis mine, since I imagine that sentence is the attack we’re going to see going forward):

It’s long been clear that Mitt Romney’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program would have devastating consequences. Romney and Paul Ryan like to claim that seniors would always have the choice of enrolling in traditional Medicare—but a new study demonstrates just how hollow that claim is.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation released a report showing that if Romney’s plan had been in place this year for today’s seniors, nearly 60% would have had to pay more to get the same coverage that they enjoy today. Certain parts of the country would be especially hard hit—a senior in Miami, Florida would have to pay an extra $5,904 a year for traditional Medicare. If she didn’t pay those extra costs, she would be forced into a new private plan that limited her choice of doctor. Strict network restrictions could put barriers between seniors and physicians, or make it difficult to access expert care when people need it.

That means that under Romney’s plan, millions of people—especially those with complicated health needs who see a lot of different doctors—would have to give up their doctors or pay extra to maintain access to their choices.

I’ll have more on this when I’ve had a chance to look at the study, but for now it’s worth noting this paragraph:

This study should not, however, be interpreted as an analysis of any particular proposal, including the RomneyRyan proposal, because such an analysis would require additional, more detailed policy specifications than are currently available, and would also require assumptions about future shifts in demographics, spending, and enrollment, nationally and by local markets, which would occur regardless of policy changes.  Additionally, this analysis assumes full implementation of a premium support system in 2010, whereas other proposals would gradually phase-in a premium support system over time, and apply the premium support system to new enrollees rather than all beneficiaries (e.g., current seniors).  For example, the Romney-Ryan proposal would introduce a premium support system for new Medicare beneficiaries beginning in 2023, exempting people who are ages 55 and older today.  This analysis, therefore, should be viewed as a device for illustrating the potential effects of a fully-implemented premium support system for Medicare beneficiaries, based on an approach to premium support put forward by several policymakers.  

So in other words, this study is not about the Romney-Ryan plan, and the Obama campaign is being misleading when they write “The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation released a report showing that if Romney’s plan had been in place this year for today’s seniors, nearly 60% would have had to pay more to get the same coverage that they enjoy today” because it isn’t a report on Romney’s plan!

“President Obama’s campaign is desperate to change the conversation from his disastrous health care law and its $716 billion cut to Medicare, which will force 15 percent of hospitals, home health agencies, and skilled nursing facilities into the red by the end of the decade,” e-mails Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul in response to the Obama campaign’s blog post on the study. “As the authors stress, this is not a study of the Romney-Ryan plan. Our plan would always provide future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options with no increase in out-of-pocket costs from today’s Medicare.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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