When Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan made his acceptance speech last night, it was almost painful to listen to. Someone contending for national office really needs to get their facts straight. We all realize that events like these national conventions are geared to hype up the delegates and core constituents – but promoting outright untruths does all voters a disservice.
Factcheck.org quickly set the record straight, but honestly, how many people will bother to check?
Medicare is one area where the Republicans are doing a fast tap dance. For example, last night Ryan claimed that President Obama took money away from Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act and doesn’t care about the elderly. Not true, according to Media Matters. Numerous experts and agencies agree that the Affordable Care Act actually slows the growth of Medicare spending and does not cut any benefits.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – the agency responsible for the programs – says that
the highlighted Affordable Care Act provisions, along with the Administration’s ongoing efforts, will save nearly $8 billion over the next two years and approximately $418 billion by 2019. Medicare savings will lower beneficiaries Part B premiums by nearly $200 annually by 2018.
Being a self-proclaimed budget wonk, surely Congressman Ryan read this report.
The independent Congressional Budget Office reports that the ACA reduces Medicare spending by $716 billion over the next decade, with a little more than half coming from reduced payments to hospitals under Part A. This will help keep it solvent through 2024. Without these reduced payments, this trust fund will go broke by 2016. Additionally, repealing the ACA will only add to the deficit, not reduce it according to the CBO.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in his usual blunt way, claimed that the Affordable Care Act would put “bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.” Again, not even close. Patients are free to choose their own providers and doctors are not told what they can or can’t do, any more so (or less) than they already are by for-profit insurance companies.
Care is not “rationed” either. Services are either covered or not, depending upon the specific insurance policy. What the Affordable Care Act does provide for is a minimum set of guaranteed benefits – including preventive care and reproductive health care. It also prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to someone if they have pre-existing conditions or dropping their policy once they get really sick. The onus is on insurers, not physicians.
Politics, by definition, is full of hype and propaganda. Unfortunately, the ones that lose out with this approach are the people these statements will actually affect. All 300 million of us. Our elected officials — regardless of party, need to tone down the vitriol and instead, give us some actual facts to assess. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but it would be really nice if politicians could just make their case without lies, half-truths, and innuendo. Voters are a lot smarter than they give us credit for.