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PolitiFact: Ad flat wrong in saying Republicans voted to kill Medicare

This is a scene from the Democrats’ ad, which depicts seniors mowing lawns and selling lemonade to pay for Medicare.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

This is a scene from the Democrats’ ad, which depicts seniors mowing lawns and selling lemonade to pay for Medicare.

The ruling

A new political ad from Democrats shows seniors running a lemonade stand, cutting the grass, and even stripping at a bachelorette party — all to raise money to pay for Medicare.

The ad critiques a budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee.

One of the major features is dramatically restructuring Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for those 65 and older. Right now, Medicare pays doctors and hospitals set fees for the care beneficiaries receive. Medicare beneficiaries contribute premiums for some types of coverage, and younger workers contribute payroll taxes.

Ryan's plan leaves Medicare as is for people 55 and older. In 2022, though, new beneficiaries would receive "premium support," which means they would buy plans from private insurance companies with financial assistance from the government. People who need more health care would get a little more money.

The proposal requires private insurers to accept all applicants and to charge the same rate for people who are the same age. The plans would comply with standards to be set by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which administers the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The plan gradually raises the Medicare eligibility age to 67, and it provides smaller premium support to high earners.

So yes, the Republican plan would be a huge change.

But to say the Republicans voted to end Medicare, as the ad does, is a major exaggeration. All seniors would continue to be offered coverage under the proposal, and the program's budget would increase every year.

Another problem with the ad is it claims participants would have to find $12,500 to pay for Medicare. That number is based on statistics compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The ad doesn't mention, though, that the number includes money that would go to Medicare in any case. The CBO estimates beneficiaries would contribute about $6,150 in premiums in 2022 if the program isn't changed. So the new costs for seniors are significantly less than $12,500.

Still another problem with the ad involves who's immediately affected by the proposal. In one scene, the ad shows a senior citizen pushing a walker behind a lawn mower. A teenager looking on says, "You missed a spot." In reality, people 55 and older won't see changes under the plan. It's actually that teenager — or anyone 54 or younger — who would pay extra when they are older.

Finally, the ad neglects another critical fact: The Republicans voted on a budget resolution that states policy preferences, but the vote did not change Medicare, much less end it. Budget resolutions are nonbinding documents that cannot be viewed as the equivalent of legislation.

We find the ad highly misleading. Pants on Fire!

Angie Drobnic Holan, Times staff writer

Edited for print. For more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com

The statement

"Seniors will have to find $12,500 for health care because Republicans voted to end Medicare."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in an ad

PolitiFact: Ad flat wrong in saying Republicans voted to kill Medicare 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:32pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

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