Crossroads GPS criticizes Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, which the ad says “cut Medicare spending by $700 billion” and “could give bureaucrats the power to cut Medicare spending even more.” In fact, the health care law reduces the growth of Medicare spending without cutting seniors’ current benefits – and Berkley’s opponent, Sen. Dean Heller, voted for the same “cuts” when he supported the Ryan budget as a member of both the House and the Senate. Furthermore, those “bureaucrats” tasked with finding future savings must be confirmed by the Senate and are prohibited from cutting benefits or rationing care.
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]
- CBO’s July Estimate Updates Medicare Cost Savings To $716 Billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, repeal would have the following effects on Medicare spending: “Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period. Federal spending for Medicaid and CHIP would increase by about $25 billion from repealing the noncoverage provisions of the ACA, and direct spending for other programs would decrease by about $30 billion, CBO estimates. Within Medicare, net increases in spending for the services covered by Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) would total $517 billion and $247 billion, respectively. Those increases would be partially offset by a $48 billion reduction in net spending for Part D.” [CBO.gov, 8/13/12]
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]
- Berkley’s Opponent, Dean Heller, Voted To Keep The Savings As A Member Of The House And The Senate. Along with 234 other House Republicans, Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) voted “yea” on the House Republican budget. Along with 39 other Republican senators, Heller also voted “yea” again as a member of the Senate. [H.Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; H. Con Res. 34, Vote #77, 5/25/11]
IPAB Is Tasked With Finding Additional Savings, But Is Forbidden From Cutting Benefits
The ad’s claim that the Affordable Care Act “could give bureaucrats the power to cut Medicare spending even more” cites a Cato Institute analysis of the Independent Payment Advisory Board from June 14, 2012.
ACA Establishes An Independent, Senate-Confirmed Board (IPAB) To Find Additional Savings. As explained by the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The 2010 health reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as the ACA) establishes a new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with authority to issue recommendations to reduce the growth in Medicare spending, and provides for the Board’s recommendations to be considered by Congress and implemented by the Administration on a fast-track basis. […]As authorized by the health reform law, IPAB is an independent board housed in the executive branch and composed of 15 full-time members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]
IPAB Proposals Will Be Implemented Unless Congress Finds Alternative Savings Or Supermajority Overturns Them. According to the Washington Post: “Beginning with fiscal 2015, if Medicare is projected to grow too quickly, the IPAB will make binding recommendations to reduce spending. Those recommendations will be sent to Capitol Hill at the beginning of each year, and if Congress doesn’t like them, it must pass alternative cuts — of the same size — by August. A supermajority of the Senate can also vote to amend the IPAB [spending] recommendations. If Congress fails to act, the secretary of Health and Human Services is required to implement the cuts by default.” [Washington Post, 5/8/11]
IPAB Cannot “Ration” Care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Board is prohibited from recommending changes that would reduce payments to certain providers before 2020, and is also prohibited from recommending changes in premiums, benefits, eligibility and taxes, or other changes that would result in rationing.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]
Affordable Care Act Improves Medicare’s Finances
“The Medicare Trust Fund Will Last Eight Years Longer” Thanks To Health Care Law. The Huffington Post reported: “The Medicare trust fund will last eight years longer than it would have without the passage of last year’s health care law, the program’s trustees announced Friday in a report. The nonpartisan lead actuary for Medicare, Rick Foster, estimated that without the health care overhaul, the program’s trust fund would have run dry by 2016. With the law in effect, Foster projected, the trust fund will last through 2024.” [Huffington Post, 5/13/11]
Repealing ACA’s Medicare Savings “Would Hasten The Insolvency Of Medicare By Eight Years.” According to the New York Times: “Mitt Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion that he says President Obama ‘robbed’ from Medicare has some health care experts puzzled, and not just because his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, included the same savings in his House budgets. The 2010 health care law cut Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, not benefits for older Americans, by that amount over the coming decade. But repealing the savings, policy analysts say, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years — to 2016, the final year of the next presidential term, from 2024. While Republicans have raised legitimate questions about the long-term feasibility of the reimbursement cuts, analysts say, to restore them in the short term would immediately add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries. That would violate Mr. Romney’s vow that neither current beneficiaries nor Americans within 10 years of eligibility would be affected by his proposal to shift Medicare to a voucherlike system in which recipients are given a lump sum to buy coverage from competing insurers.” [New York Times, 8/21/12]
[NARRATOR:] We know all about Shelley Berkley’s ethics. Controversies stretching back years, now using her office to enrich herself. But what about her policies? They’re even worse. Berkley voted to cut Medicare spending by $700 billion. And Berkley’s vote could give bureaucrats the power to cut Medicare spending even more. Jeopardizing care for those who need it most. Slashing Medicare spending. Enriching herself. That’s shameful. That’s Shelley Berkley. Crossroads GPS is responsible for the content of this advertising. [Crossroads GPS via YouTube.com, 9/13/12]