Fact Check: Romney Ad Slams Obama for Medicare "Cut"

By Steve Kanigher

Published 08/15 2012 02:15PM

Updated 08/15 2012 02:25PM

Claim: A new advertisement endorsed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 states: "You paid into Medicare for years. Every paycheck. Now when you need it Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. Why? To pay for Obamacare."

Verdict: This claim is true but there are two caveats worth mentioning. The figure came from a July 24 letter that Douglas Elmendorf, director of the neutral Congressional Budget Office, wrote to Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. The letter estimated the spending and revenue effects of a House Republican-led effort to repeal the health care reform law approved by President Barack Obama, a Democrat. By repealing the law, "spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period," Elmendorf wrote. The Washington Post, quoting an analysis of the health care law by author John McDonough from his book, "Inside National Health Reform." reported Tuesday that most of the reduced Medicare spending comes from reductions in reimbursements to hospitals and private health insurance companies. Here's one caveat to the ad: A budget plan from Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is Romney's running mate for vice president, proposed roughly the same amount of reduced Medicare spending. In a July 1 appearance on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Ryan conceded as much when asked whether his Medicare savings would be applied toward deficit and debt reduction. Ryan responded in the affirmative, explaining that the purpose was to extend Medicare's solvency. Here's the second caveat: Elmendorf also informed Boehner that repeal of the health care reform law would actually increase the nation's budget deficit by $109 billion over the next 10 years, which is noteworthy because other ads have criticized Obama for not doing enough to reduce the deficit.

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