TRUTH TEST: Opposing campaign ads scare on Medicare

7:56 PM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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Seniors care deeply about Medicare and they are faithful voters.

So it's no surprise that the Presidential campaigns want to paint each other as bad on Medicare and voters in Colorado are being treated to dueling ads with that goal.

Throughout the 2012 political season, 9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say.

The Romney ad starts by playing to emotions, with an announcer reminding viewers, "you paid into Medicare for years."

The ad goes on to claim that, "[President] Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. Why? To pay for Obamacare."

This claim is half-true.

It originates from a CBO letter to House Speaker John Boehner that said a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would require $716 billion more to be spent on Medicare. 

That's because "Obamacare" controls the future cost of Medicare by lowering the rates it pays to hospitals and insurance companies.

You can construe that as cutting Medicare spending, but it's not a literal cut to the Medicare budget.

None of that cut is to benefits.

"So now the money you paid for your guaranteed healthcare is going to a massive new government program that's not for you," the ad goes on to claim.

That is a misleading statement.

It leaves viewers with the impression that President Obama raided money from Medicare and spent it on a bunch of new healthcare programs.

What "Obamacare" really did was keep Medicare costs from growing as quickly and used the saving to offset the costs of implementing various parts of the healthcare law. (Politifact)

The Obama ad aims to counter the Romney ad, specifically referencing it at the beginning.

"The non-partisan AARP says Obamacare cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse. And strengthens guaranteed benefits," claims the announcer.

It's true that the AARP said those things, but they are simply opinions. The healthcare law certainly aims to accomplish those things, but it has not been completely implemented.

Some provisions aimed at cracking down on fraud are in place, but have not yet provided data needed to evaluate their effectiveness. (NPR)

The Brookings Institute reports it's unclear whether the cost controls built into the Affordable Care Act might impair access, while the administration touts some accomplishments reducing prescription costs.

The ad goes on to attack Romney's running mate Paul Ryan for his plans on Medicare while in Congress.

"Experts say Ryan's voucher plan could raise future retirees' cost more than six thousand dollars," claims the announcer.

This claim is unproven and based on outdated research looking at an older version of Ryan's plan. (Politifact)

His current plan does not call for mandatory vouchers, but rather allows future retirees to choose between traditional Medicare or using their share of Medicare funds toward a private plan beginning in 2023. There is no equivalent figure for his newer private option plan.


Neither campaign seeks to cut Medicare benefits, but both seek to control the future growth of Medicare spending.

The campaigns have different methods to try to accomplish that goal, which could have a big impact on the senior citizens of the future, but little impact on people who use Medicare already.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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