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American Commitment's TV ad claiming U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson cut Medicare mostly false

An attack ad by a conservative outside spending group blames Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for cutting billions from Medicare by voting for the Affordable Care Act. The ad is getting plenty of airplay, despite PolitiFact repeatedly finding the ad's claims untrue. (We swear, our feelings aren't hurt.)

So what exactly is wrong with the claim in American Commitment's commercial this time?

In the ad, which is titled "Facts," a narrator intones that "Nelson's health care vote imposes the largest tax increase in history on the middle class, cuts $500 billion from Medicare to pay for new government programs, and millions could lose their current coverage."

American Commitment told PolitiFact they refused to work with us, citing previous Truth-O-Meter rulings with which they didn't agree. Nelson's lawyers in May asked Florida television stations to not air a commercial from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that made similar claims. The stations refused.

For this item, we'll skip the tax increase claim (which we've rated Pants on Fire) or the loss of coverage (which we've rated False), but will focus on the $500 billion in cuts.

This is a standard conservative talking point after the passage of the president's health care bill, focusing on a $500 billion reduction in projected spending that is an integral part of the federal health care law. These reductions include the amount of annual increases health care providers would receive from Medicare, administrative changes and alterations to Medicare Advantage.

The difference, PolitiFact has repeatedly ruled, is that these don't represent cuts, but rather an attempt to curtail future Medicare spending. The program is still projected to grow, the Congressional Budget Office predicts, just at a slower rate under the so-called Obamacare guidelines.

Those savings, which the commercial says are being taken to fund "other government programs," are alterations to the way health coverage is paid for. One of those ways is to increase the scope of Medicaid. Another is to expand coverage of prevention services. A third is to help cover the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" for prescription drugs.

Nelson was among the 60 votes in favor of the bill on Dec. 24, 2009, providing the cloture needed to prevent the bill from being filibustered. That has drawn the ire of the bill's opponents and conservative groups like American Commitment, which have charged all 59 Democrats and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders all cast the "deciding vote" — yet another claim we've ruled False, because several other senators' votes were much more crucial.

So American Commitment claims Nelson voted to slash $500 billion from Medicare to fund other programs. Our previous rulings have shown that there is no vast well of money already allocated that is being cut, and the programs being funded are a part of government health care services, of which Medicare is the largest.

Yet again, we rate this claim Mostly False.

For more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com.

The statement

Bill Nelson's vote for the Affordable Care Act "cuts $500 billion from Medicare to pay for new government programs."

American Commitment, in a TV ad

The ruling

These don't represent cuts, but rather an attempt to curtail future Medicare spending. The program is still projected to grow, the Congressional Budget Office predicts, just at a slower rate. We rate this claim Mostly False.

American Commitment's TV ad claiming U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson cut Medicare mostly false 08/22/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 4:51pm]
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