President Donald Trump set his sights on a central Florida retirement community to lay out his vision on Medicare, even as House Democrats pursued an impeachment inquiry.
As his visit to The Villages neared, Florida Democrats attacked Trump’s record on Medicare, suggesting he wants to weaken the health care program for the elderly. A Sept. 30 tweet from the state party about Trump's "toxic record" included a graphic that says "$575 billion cut from Medicare in Trump’s proposed 2020 budget."
That statement is misleading. That is a projected reduction of future spending over a decade for the health care program for the elderly. And it’s worth noting that President Barack Obama called for trimming Medicare spending, too.
Trump’s proposed budget
The first thing to know about Trump’s 2020 budget proposal is that it is just an expression of Trump’s priorities and ideas. The changes proposed by Trump to slow down the growth in spending will only occur if Congress passes a law.
The Medicare cost reduction under Trump’s budget is expected to be roughly $600 billion over the next 10 years, when compared to current spending levels, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis in May.
The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget largely agrees, saying Trump’s budget proposal reduces Medicare spending by $515 billion or $575 billion.
About 85% of the savings comes from reductions in what Medicare pays to providers.
"Those cuts would primarily reduce what Medicare pays providers, and I would not expect them to have negative effects on Medicare beneficiaries," Matt Fiedler, an economics fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, previously told PolitiFact. "The budget’s Medicare proposals are also, in my view, largely sensible policy."
Not all of the proposed cuts land on providers, however.
Changes in Medicare’s Part D prescription drug insurance program might be the clearest example of Medicare cuts in the Trump budget that affect ordinary Americans. While one proposal would cap out-of-pocket costs for people with the very highest drug costs, another would expose people below that cost level to higher fees. At the end of the day, the Trump budget reduces payments for people who rely on prescription drugs by $50 billion. The idea of reducing the growth of Medicare isn’t new — and many of Trump’s ideas build upon ideas originally proposed in President Obama's budgets.
Obama’s last budget proposed trimming Medicare spending by $420 billion over 10 years. (Republicans accused Obama and Democrats of cutting Medicare many times, a claim we never rated better than Half True.)
The Florida Democratic Party tweeted "$575 billion cut from Medicare in Trump’s proposed 2020 budget."
There is some truth to the attack.
But the Democrats omit that the figure pertains to an amount of reduced spending over a decade. Also, it is a proposed reduction relative to projected future spending. Medicare spending will still rise overall.
We rate this statement Half True.