Rand Paul "wants us to pay $2,000 just to get Medicare."
Jack Conway, in a campaign commercial
In the Kentucky Senate race, Democrat Jack Conway is attacking Republican Rand Paul over Medicare deductibles.
The ad opens with footage of Paul: "The real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible."
Man: "A $2,000 deductible?"
Man: "Rand Paul wants us to pay $2,000 just to get Medicare?"
Woman: "That's crazy."
Woman: "I can't afford that."
Footage of Rand Paul: "The real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible."
Man: "I don't know what planet he's from."
The grainy footage of Paul comes from a talk he gave in Lexington, Ky., on June 19, 2009.
To see whether Conway's ad takes Paul's remarks out of context, we transcribed the portion of his speech in which he talked about Medicare.
"What's the problem in medicine?" Paul began. "No price fluctuation. If you're over 65 and go to a doctor in this country, you pay the exact same price with every doctor in the whole country. So when they want to blame … that on capitalism, we have to be smart enough and say, 'We don't have capitalism. We already have socialism.' "
He continued, "Medicare is socialized medicine. People are afraid of that because, 'Oh, you'll say you're against Medicare.' No, I say we have to do something different. We can't just eliminate Medicare. But we have to figure out how to get more to a market-based system. It's counter-intuitive to a lot of people, but you have to pay for things if you want prices to come down. So you really need higher deductibles. And the real answer to Medicare would be a $2,000 deductible, but try selling that one in an election. But … you have to pay for things. And when you do, …you also get rid of price controls. So you raise the deductible, you get rid of price controls, and you allow more competition. … There have to be ways to allow medicine to come down."
Paul has refined his policy toward Medicare. During an appearance on Fox News on Oct. 6, he said that he does not want to impose deductibles on current Medicare beneficiaries but rather on future beneficiaries, possibly starting with those who are currently 55 or younger.
We think the general impression the ad gives is that what Paul wants to do is slap seniors with a $2,000 deductible, though his plan is much more comprehensive. So the ad is somewhat misleading. That said, we see it as a relatively minor exaggeration. Paul has advocated for a $2,000 deductible in multiple settings, and on balance we rate the ad Mostly True.
Louis Jacobson, Times Staff Writer. Edited for print. For more, go to PolitiFact.com.