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Mitt Romney smirks after attacking President Obama over the Libya attacks
During the debate, President Obama allowed Mitt Romney to repeat the lie that Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Again and again and again. It's a brutal accusation, and Romney stuck to it and was allowed to get away with it. Again and again and again. But here are the actual facts, as previously reported.

CBS News:

Romney's $716B Medicare cut attack is dubious
Politifact:
Romney said, "There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare."

The only element of truth here is that the health care law seeks to reduce future Medicare spending, and the tally of those cost reductions over the next 10 years is $716 billion. The money wasn’t "robbed," however, and other presidents have made similar reductions to the Medicare program.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

New York Times:
The $716 billion cut to Medicare that Mr. Obama made will reduce payments to health maintenance organizations and hospitals and other health care providers. Mr. Ryan initially counted on the same savings in his budget plans.
New York Times editorial:
In reality, the $716 billion is not a “cut” in benefits but rather the savings in costs that the Congressional Budget Office projects over the next decade from wholly reasonable provisions in the reform law.

One big chunk of money will be saved by reducing unjustifiably high subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans that enroll many beneficiaries at a higher average cost than traditional Medicare. Another will come from reducing the annual increases in federal reimbursements to health care providers — like hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies — to force the notoriously inefficient system to find ways to improve productivity.

And a further chunk will come from fees or taxes imposed on drug makers, device makers and insurers — fees that they can surely afford since expanded coverage for the uninsured will increase their markets and their revenues.

NO HARM TO SENIORS The Republicans imply that the $716 billion in cuts will harm older Americans, but almost none of the savings come from reducing the benefits available for people already on Medicare. But if Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan were able to repeal the reform law, as they have pledged to do, that would drive up costs for many seniors — namely those with high prescription drug costs, who are already receiving subsidies under the reform law, and those who are receiving preventive services, like colonoscopies, mammograms and immunizations, with no cost sharing.

ABC News:

The Romney-Ryan campaign in its latest TV ad assails Obama for approving the cuts in 2010. “Obama has cut $716 billion dollars from Medicare,” says the narrator. “The money you paid for your guaranteed health care…is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”

Voters might be left with the impression that Romney and Ryan have both opposed the cuts. The truth is that Ryan himself endorses them in his signature budget plan – the same plan Romney has said he would sign as president if it reached his desk.

Those Medicare savings -achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud and abuse, not benefit cuts – appear in the House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored.

And after the debate, Jackie Calmes of the New York Times:
The charge that Mr. Obama took $716 billion from Medicare recipients to pay for his “Obamacare” has several problems — not least the fact that Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, included the identical savings in his annual budget plans that nearly all House Republicans voted for in the past two years.

Mr. Obama did not cut benefits by $716 billion over 10 years as part of his 2010 health care law; rather, he reduced Medicare reimbursements to health care providers, chiefly insurance companies and drug manufacturers. And the law gave Medicare recipients more generous benefits for prescription drugs and free preventive care like mammograms.

According to nonpartisan analysts, it is Mr. Romney who would both cut benefits and add costs for beneficiaries if he restored the $716 billion in reductions. Restoring higher payments to insurers and other companies would in turn increase Medicare premiums because beneficiaries share in Medicare’s total cost. Marilyn Moon, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research, has calculated that a Medicare recipient’s out-of-pocket expenses would increase $577 a year on average by 2022.

This is an easy lie to refute. And it should be refuted every time it is repeated.

Originally posted to Laurence Lewis on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 09:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Hirono for Senate.

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