Crossroads GPS is running a new ad in Missouri accusing Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of supporting Medicare cuts and opposing tax cuts for the middle class. However, the savings in the Affordable Care Act do not ‘cut’ Medicare as Crossroads suggests, and the ad conveniently overlooks the important benefits for seniors in the law. In addition, before the compromise to extend all of the Bush tax cuts in late 2010, McCaskill supported an effort to preserve lower rates for all but the wealthiest Americans, but Republicans refused in order to protect wasteful tax cuts for the rich.
Affordable Care Act Savings Do Not ‘Cut’ Medicare Benefits
Affordable Care Act Reduces Future Medicare Spending, But “Does Not Cut That Money From The Program.” According to PolitiFact: “The legislation aims to slow projected spending on Medicare by more than $500 billion over a 10-year period, but it does not cut that money from the program. Medicare spending will increase over that time frame.” [PolitiFact.com, 6/28/12]
GOP Plan Kept Most Of The Savings In The Affordable Care Act. According to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler: “First of all, under the health care bill, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year. The health care bill tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as ‘the baseline’) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. […] The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.” [WashingtonPost.com, 6/15/11, emphasis added]
Affordable Care Act Closes Medicare Donut Hole, Expands Preventive Care
“Donut Hole” Is Gap In Drug Coverage For Annual Costs From $2,830-6,440. From CNNMoney: “What’s the donut hole? In addition to a $310 deductible, Medicare beneficiaries pay 25% of their drug costs until the total reaches $2,830 for the year. Then, they fall into a coverage gap. At that point, enrollees must pay all costs out of pocket until their annual expenses exceed $6,440. After that, seniors pay 5% of drug costs for the rest of the year. [CNNMoney, 6/7/10]
Affordable Care Act Eliminates Coverage Gap By 2020. The Kaiser Family Foundation explains how the Affordable Care Act closes the “donut hole”:
• In 2010, Part D enrollees with spending in the coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate.
• Beginning in 2011, Part D enrollees who reach the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on the total cost of their brand-name drugs in the gap, as agreed to by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
• Over time, Medicare will gradually phase in additional subsidies in the coverage gap for brand-name drugs (beginning in 2013) and generic drugs (beginning in 2011), reducing the beneficiary coinsurance rate in the gap from 100 percent to 25 percent by 2020. [KFF.org, March 2010]
The Donut Hole Got “Noticeably Smaller” In 2011, Benefitting Over 2 Million Seniors. As the Associated Press reported:
Medicare’s prescription coverage gap is getting noticeably smaller and easier to manage this year for millions of older and disabled people with high drug costs. […]
The average beneficiary who falls into the coverage gap would have spent $1,504 this year on prescriptions. But thanks to discounts and other provisions in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, that cost fell to $901, according to Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which handles economic estimates. […]
More than 2 million beneficiaries already have gotten some help, discounts that have gone largely to middle-class seniors, because the poor are covered in the gap at taxpayer expense. [Associated Press, 11/27/11]
Medicare Beneficiaries Will Receive Free Preventive Services, Annual Wellness Visits Under Health Care Law. As Kaiser Health News reported: “Starting in January, the new health-care law will make it easier and cheaper for seniors to get preventive care. Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive for free all preventive services and screenings that receive an A or B recommendation for seniors from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That includes mammograms and colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and nutritional counseling for people at risk for diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes. Medicare beneficiaries will also get a free annual wellness visit under the new law. The visit will cover a number of services, including a health risk assessment and a review of the person’s functional and cognitive abilities. […] Currently, seniors in traditional Medicare pay 20 percent of the cost for most covered preventive services. [KaiserHealthNews.org, 8/10/10]
- More Than 25 Million Seniors Have Received Free Preventive Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports: “According to preliminary numbers, at least 25,720,996 million Americans took advantage of at least one free preventive benefit in Medicare in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit. This represents 73.3% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries.” [CMS.gov, 2/15/12]
McCaskill Voted To Extend Middle-Class Tax Cuts, GOP Said “No” To ProtectThe Super-Rich
December 2010: Senate Republicans Blocked Democratic Attempt To Extend Bush Tax Cuts For The Middle Class. From CNN: “Two Senate procedural votes on Democratic measures to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people who are not super wealthy failed on Saturday, preventing the measures from moving forward. The votes sought to extend the Bush tax cuts for families making under $250,000 and $1 million, respectively. Both votes garnered the support of 53 senators, but the Democrats needed 60 votes to end debate.” [CNN, 12/5/10]
- McCaskill Supported Democratic Proposal For Extending Bush Tax Cuts For Most Americans. Sen. McCaskill voted “yea” on the pair of cloture motions relating to the tax cut extension on December 4, 2010. [S.Amdt. 4727, Vote #258, 12/4/10; S.Amdt. 4728, Vote #259, 12/4/10]
Up To “95 Percent Of Working Families” Have Received Tax Cuts Under President Obama. According to FactCheck.org: “Obama has lowered taxes for all workers through a 2 percentage point reduction in the Social Security payroll tax that started in 2011 and is scheduled to continue through the end of 2012. The cut is equal to $1,000 this year for a worker making $50,000 a year — or as much as $2,202 to any worker earning at least the maximum taxable level of wages or salary ($110,100 for 2012). Obama had previously signed a tax cut that benefited nearly all working families and was in effect from 2009 through 2010. The ‘Making Work Pay’ tax credit was part of the stimulus bill he signed shortly after taking office. That credit was worth a maximum of $400 per person, or $800 for couples during those years. It phased out at higher income levels, and so its benefit went entirely to individuals making less than $95,000 a year, or couples making less than $190,000. The White House figures it went to ‘95 percent of working families.’ And even allowing for those who are retired or unemployed, it benefited more than 75 percent of all individuals and families, working or not, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.” [FactCheck.org, 5/17/12]
[NARRATOR:] Here’s Claire McCaskill – using special interest cash to hide the fact she’s voted against what’s best for Missouri. Claire claims to protect Medicare, but she voted to cut Medicare spending half a trillion dollars by supporting Obamacare. Claire claims to cut taxes for the middle class, but she’s also voted against extending tax cuts, including the child tax credit, death tax, and marriage penalty. Tell Claire, on Medicare and taxes, start voting in Washington the way you talk in Missouri. [Crossroads GPS via YouTube.com, 3/8/12]