The Truth Hurts for Republicans in Congress That Voted to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break
Date: May 12, 2011
To: Editorial Boards
From: Americans United for Change
Subject: The Truth Hurts for Republicans in Congress That Voted to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires
What Hypocrisy, What Dishonesty, What Nerve: The Same Republicans That Falsely Accused Democrats of Gutting Medicare on the Campaign Trail and Then Turned Around and Voted to Abolish Medicare When They Got to Washington Are Now Crying Foul Over Well-Deserved Criticism of Their Actions, Deceit …
Talking Points Memo: ‘GOP Freshmen On Medicare Attacks: Let's Let Bygones Be Bygones’
New York Times: “Republicans Decry Tactics the Party Used Last Year”
Washington Monthly: ‘House GOP freshmen conveniently forget 2010’
It was a breathtaking display of hypocrisy. House Republicans gathered at the Capitol steps this week to cry foul over the well-deserved criticism they’re receiving, especially from their constituents back home, following their April 15th vote for a misguided and radical budget plan – a plan that seeks to “essentially end Medicare” by replacing it with system of ever-shrinking private insurance vouchers while at the same time doling out over $4 trillion in new tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil companies, and corporations that outsource US jobs. Before the squeals get any louder, let’s get the facts straight.
It’s understandable that Republicans in Congress would love to “wipe the slate clean” when it comes to Medicare especially after many of them joined in the most well-coordinated, well-funded misinformation campaign of 2010, where seniors were purposely misled into believing that their Medicare benefits would be cut under the President’s new health care law. Ignoring the conclusions to the contrary at the time from independent fact checkers and the AARP, one after another, Republicans falsely accused their Democratic opponents of cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and they did so with the help of millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of deceitful TV ads from Corporate front groups. The Golden Rule sure didn’t apply on the campaign trail, but now it should, they argue.
But there’s a seismic difference between the rhetoric GOP used in 2010 and the criticisms leveled their direction today: FACTS.
The fact is, Affordable Care Act did not cut guaranteed benefits for seniors … period. What the new health law did cut, as part of its efforts to rein in waste and abuse in the system, was billions of dollars in wasteful in subsidies to private insurance companies that offer the so-called Medicare Advantage program, a program which needlessly and inefficiently reinvents the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries. As the Economic Policy Institute summarized before the ACA became law: “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years, a substantial down payment on health care reform.”
And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a 2009 report: “The overpayments, which have totaled nearly $44 billion between 2004 and 2008, average more than $1,100 for each beneficiary enrolled in a private plan. By increasing Medicare costs, these overpayments also drive up premiums for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare by $86 per year for a couple, according to the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in regular Medicare are forced to pay higher premiums each month to subsidize these excess payments.’
By eliminating these wasteful subsidies to the private insurance industry, Medicare is today stronger than it has ever been before. Not only did the health law strengthen Medicare’s solvency by 12 years and not only do Medicare beneficiaries still have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had, but seniors now have NEW benefits like free preventive care services and tens of thousands of enrollees who fall into the infamous Part D “donut hole” are saving an average of $800 per person thanks to a new 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system is getting tackled in a serious way – you may have see this recent headline: “In 'Largest-Ever' Bust, Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests 111’
And the fact is, far from their campaign promises to protect Medicare, all but 5 House Republicans voted to shred the cherished social contract with seniors and dramatically shortchange them on their care. As The Economist put it, the GOP “plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.”
The fact is, House Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system where seniors in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older are given a coupon and sent out into the private insurance market – a coupon that won’t keep up with the rising costs of health care and will leave seniors paying over $6,000 more out of their pockets for care. Not stopping there, the Republican plan would also slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, leaving up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age. And despite Republican claims to the contrary, not even today’s seniors would escape cuts in their Medicare benefits under the GOP plan as it would repeal provisions in the new health law that are working to fill in the Part D “donut hole” and help seniors pay for the medicines they need. In fact, under the GOP plan, next year alone, seniors currently in the donut hole would pay an additional $2.2 Billion for their Rx drugs.
As our organization asked GOP Representatives who voted for the Ryan budget in a recent TV ad: “What were you thinking?”
Bottom Line: Republicans in Congress Can Whine All They Want About the Heat They’ve Come Under In Recent Weeks, But The Fact Remains: They Approved a Plan in the U.S. House to End Medicare as We Know It to Pay For More Tax Breaks for Millionaires, and There’s No Running or Hiding From It
The GOP Budget is Wildly Out-of-Step With the American People: From the Washington Post, 4/20/11: The Post-ABC poll finds that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 percent disapprove of cuts. … In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. … The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent).