More Medicare Myths

Former President Bill Clinton’s speechifying last night gave most fact checkers plenty to work with.  The Associated Press and Washington Post were fairly thorough, but one of the best critiques comes from the Examiner’s Philip Klein:

To start, Clinton claimed that the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare benefits within Obamacare would not affect benefits. “There were no cuts to benefits,” he emphatically said. “None. What the president did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service.”

But the chief actuary for Medicare has predicted that the cuts to health care provider payments will force providers to drop out of the program, thus reducing access for seniors despite the benefits that they may have on paper. In the 2012 trustees’ report for the program, Richard Foster, wrote:  “Without unprecedented changes in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services are very likely to fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services. By the end of the long-range projection period, Medicare prices for hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, hospice, ambulatory surgical center, diagnostic laboratory, and many other services would be less than half of their level under the prior law. Medicare prices would be considerably below the current relative level of Medicaid prices, which have already led to access problems for Medicaid enrollees, and far below the levels paid by private health insurance. Well before that point, Congress would have to intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result.”

Klein hits on a couple more key points that are worth reading.  Of course, the distortions will keep coming, which means we’ll keep swatting back the accusations and falsehoods.

Oh, and as Heritage pointed out this morning, President Clinton was also wrong on welfare reform.

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