Crossroads GPS accuses Sen. Bill Nelson of “hurting Florida’s seniors” by supporting the Affordable Care Act, which the ad says “cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion.” However, while the health care law does reduce the future growth of Medicare spending, it does not cut seniors’ benefits – and Nelson’s opponent, Rep. Connie Mack, voted for the same savings last year when he backed the GOP budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan. The health care law also benefits seniors by closing the “donut hole” and providing free preventive care, while repealing the Affordable Care Act would hasten Medicare’s insolvency and have negative consequences for millions of Americans.
Affordable Care Act Savings Do Not ‘Cut’ Medicare Benefits – And Connie Mack Voted For Them, Too
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]
- Rep. Mack Voted To Keep The Medicare Savings By Supporting House GOP Budget In 2011. Along with 234 other House Republicans, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) voted “yea” on the House Republican budget. [H.Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]
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]
IPAB Cannot ‘Ration’ Care Or Deny Benefits
The ad’s claim that the Affordable Care Act puts “unelected bureaucrats between 3 million Florida Medicare recipients and the care they need” cites a July 13, 2011, article from The Hill titled “GOP aims for focused IPAB attack.”
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]
Benefits For Seniors In The Affordable Care Act
Closing The Donut Hole
“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]
Expanding Preventive Care
Medicare Beneficiaries Receive Free Preventive Services, Annual Wellness Visits Under Health Care Law. As Kaiser Health News reported: “[T]he 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]
Extending The Life Of Medicare
“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]
CBPP: “Medicare’s Financing Challenges Would Be Significantly Greater Without The Health Reform Law.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Medicare’s financing challenges would be significantly greater without the health reform law (the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), which substantially improved the program’s financial outlook. […]
The 2011 report of Medicare’s trustees finds that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2024; at that point, the payroll taxes and other revenue deposited in the trust fund will still be sufficient to pay 90 percent of Medicare hospital insurance costs. (The Medicare hospital insurance program is considered insolvent when revenues and trust fund balances will not cover 100 percent of projected costs.) Over the next 75 years, revenue will cover an average of 83 percent of Medicare’s hospital insurance costs. This shortfall will need to be closed through the provision of additional revenues, program changes that slow the growth in costs, or most likely both. But the Medicare hospital insurance will not run out of all financial resources and cease to operate after 2024, as the “bankruptcy” term may suggest.
The 2024 date does not apply to Medicare coverage for physician and outpatient costs or to the Medicare prescription drug benefit; these parts of Medicare do not face insolvency and cannot run short of funds. [CBPP.org, 7/12/11, emphasis original, internal citations removed]
Repeal Would Have Negative Consequences For Millions
Up To 6.6 Million Young Adults Would Lose Health Care Coverage Through Their Parents’ Plans. From the Los Angeles Times: “President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates. […] Earlier surveys by the federal government found that the number of people ages 19 to 25 without insurance declined after the law was signed, reversing years of erosion in health coverage for young adults.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/8/12]
70,000 Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Lose Insurance Coverage. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of May 31, 2012, 73,333 people were enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) created by the Affordable Care Act. [HealthCare.gov, 7/13/12]
5.2 Million People Would Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: “As a result of the Affordable Care Act, over 5.2 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved over $3.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also released data today showing that in the first half of 2012, over 1 million people with Medicare saved a total of $687 million on prescription drugs in ‘donut hole’ coverage gap for an average of $629 in savings this year. […] Coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the gap will continue to increase over time until 2020, when the coverage gap will be closed.” [CMS.gov, 7/25/12]
Over 35 Million Seniors Would Lose Access To Free Preventive Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] report that 35,106,598 people were enrolled in Medicare Part B in 2011. CMS also reports:
Beginning January 1, 2011, the Affordable Care Act eliminated Part B coinsurance and deductibles for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and key immunizations. The law also added an important new service — an Annual Wellness Visit with a health professional — at no cost to beneficiaries.
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, including 2,404,792 African-American beneficiaries, 537,110 Hispanic beneficiaries, 104,393 American Indian beneficiaries, and 508,398 Asian-American beneficiaries. [CMS.gov, 2/15/12]
[NARRATOR:] Florida’s seniors are facing a health care crisis. Only 14 physicians to every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. But in Washington, Bill Nelson’s been voting for the new health care law, which cuts Medicare spending by $700 billion, puts unelected bureaucrats between Florida’s 3 million Medicare recipients and the care they need, hurting Florida’s seniors. Tell Senator Nelson it’s time to repeal. Support the New Majority Agenda at NewMajorityAgenda.org. [Crossroads GPS via YouTube.com, 8/23/12]