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  • Morning Bell: Two Liberal Whoppers on Medicare

    A debate that has been fought largely over the airwaves is about to go head-to-head. Medicare reform is a huge part of that debate, and the left—bolstered by the media—has been promoting two huge falsehoods on the issue.

    Several proposals from conservatives and liberals for Medicare reform, including The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream proposal, are based on a financing model called “premium support.” What that means: Medicare has a premium cost, just as other health insurance does. When the government makes a contribution (sometimes referred to as a “defined contribution”) toward paying your premium, that is called premium support. The difference with reform is that the government would no longer dictate to seniors which Medicare plan they would have to use. The government would still support the premium, but the seniors would have the option to choose from a variety of plans tailored to their needs, including traditional Medicare.

    The concept is already working in several areas of Medicare, including Medicare Advantage plans and the prescription drug benefit program. Program savings in the drug program have been spectacular, and in Medicare Advantage and the drug program premiums have been stable. Patient satisfaction is very high in both programs.

    But two whoppers are still circulating—let’s put them to rest once and for all.

    1. “Vouchercare”

    Vice President Joe Biden has described the Medicare reform proposal championed by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others as “Vouchercare.” Heritage expert Robert Moffit dispatches this claim with zero ambiguity:

    There is no major Medicare reform proposal, including the Ryan proposal, that would issue future senior citizens a voucher (a certificate or coupon or a check for a fixed dollar amount) and then force them to fend for themselves — on their own – in negotiating with health-insurance companies…It’s all scary nonsense.

    Under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” the existing Medicare drug benefit program is a voucher. Under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is a voucher. And under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” Obamacare’s insurance exchanges will be funded by vouchers in 2014.

    This simply isn’t what we think of as a “voucher.” An example of a true voucher plan? The food stamp program. People are given vouchers, which they take to the store and use to buy something. Medicare reform proposals do not work this way.

    Moffit plainly lays out the features of a premium support plan:

    • It would provide direct payment from the government to a health plan of a person’s choice, including traditional Medicare, if that was the patient’s choice.
    • Health plans, including employer-based retiree plans, would have to meet government standards, including benefit standards of the traditional Medicare program, plus new and much-needed protections against the costs of catastrophic illness.
    • Plans would be offered like the Medicare Part D program, governed by existing Medicare insurance rules, meaning people could not be legally denied coverage or dropped merely because they are sick.
    • Low-income Americans would be specially protected from unforeseen out-of-pocket cost hikes.
    • All enrollees would benefit from an improved risk adjustment among plans in the competitive market to guarantee continuity of patient care and health-plan stability.

    Use of the word “voucher,” with the accompanying mental picture of confused seniors wandering around with coupons in their hands, is merely a rhetorical scare tactic. It has no basis in fact.

    2. The $6,400 Question

    You’ve likely heard that reforming Medicare would cost seniors $6,400 out of pocket. This charge is based on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis relating to an outdated version of Ryan’s budget proposal.

    This figure is meaningless and misleading for two reasons. Not only has Ryan’s proposal changed significantly since then, but the CBO has also admitted that its estimates would be limited—because it cannot account for the effects of competition on prices.

    As Heritage’s Rea Hederman reports, “CBO director Douglas Elmendorf has publicly acknowledged that his agency does not have the methodological tools to accurately model Medicare premium-support plans and the impact of market competition.”

    The most recent academic analysis indicates that introducing premium support into Medicare could save 9 percent in annual costs. In addition to reducing Medicare spending across the board, the more important effect would be the competition between plans—giving people options for their coverage plans and saving individuals money.

    Share this article with friends so we can put these falsehoods to rest and move the debate forward.


    Why Medicare Premium Support Would Not Cost Future Beneficiaries $6,400 More by Rea Hederman

    Medicare Reform Myths Debunked from Heritage Action for America

    In-Depth: Premium Support: Medicare’s Future and Its Critics by Robert Moffit

    Quick Hits:

    • The White House has told government contractors to hold off on warning employees of impending layoffs before election day.
    • CNN continues the story about the Obama Administration’s messy response to the Libya attack, failing to tell the public right away that it was a terrorist attack.
    • Spanish-language network Univision has reported that a Mexican drug cartel leader involved in mass killings was found with weapons from the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal.
    • Check out Heritage’s list of 10 ways the Obama Administration is hurting America’s energy economy.
    • Today on Istook Live!, the radio show broadcasting from Heritage, tune in online from 9 a.m.-noon ET to hear discussion about America’s schools: evaluating principals and Michelle Obama’s plans for school lunches.
    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to Morning Bell: Two Liberal Whoppers on Medicare

    1. toledofan says:

      By the time this bill is completely implemented, I don't think anyone will still have their arms around the real cost. It's obvious that the cost has to be managed in some form but when the Democrats are involved, and they set the rules, it always turns into a boondoggle. The only way to stop this nonsense is to vote the Democrats out, period.

    2. Michael Kalthoff says:

      Check out "Saving Private Healthcare" on Amazon. The writer introduces Medical Escrow Accounts at all banks that will take premium support deposits from both employers and Medicare which means that after you buy your own health insurance, you never have to switch policies after a job change or after 65, thereby eliminating pre-existing condition clauses.

    3. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Does it really make any difference to anyone that the Liberals lie? When an Obama supperpac chair states "I don't care how many Pinocchios I get" the lies "moves votes". Is this what the our political system has become. No honor, no honesty, no morals, nothing American. Under Obama and the Democrat Party it has!

    4. Steve h says:

      It may not be an actual voucher, but it is the exact same principle. Seniors get a set amount and have to cover the rest of the costs with their own money. That is how Ryan gets savings. He does nothing to slow the rate of growth of health care costs, just shifts the burden from the federal government to seniors. That's how he gets his savings. It's a plan with no big ideas on saving Medicare or lowering costs and will hurt the economy because seniors will have less money to spend elsewhere. You are kidding yourself if you think the plan does not shift costs to seniors. It may not be $6,400, but it will certianly be thousands of dollars.

      • Bobbie says:

        Seniors are already paying unfairly out of pocket through a deliberately perpetual confusing system while the obamacare staff lives comfortably and fully protected more so than the patient. Nothing hurts the economy more than government control outside ones' own. Ryan does slow the rate of "growth" of health care increasing costs because the more of ALL people personally responsible to the accountabilities of their livelihoods will naturally reduce costs and if people hadn't traded in their dignity for government dependency to take on their livelihoods it wouldn't have been any other way, certainly wouldn't have gotten to this government manufactured crisis!

      • Kat1043 says:

        Did you actually read the article or are you just giving us your knee jerk reaction? The system in place NOW falls under the same definition of Voucher that the Demwits are trying to label the Ryan plan with. My mother is on Medicare and has to pay a premium, out of pocket, every month to maintain it. Medicare only pays a certain portion and she makes up the difference. Ryan's plan just puts more competition in the mix, which will cause the overall premium to go down. Free market works if you don't let the government regulate it to the point of picking winners and losers.

      • TomZ says:

        Close, Steve, but I see Ryan's idea pushing the sellers (the insurance providers) to be more competitive, because the end-user customer will have more skin in the game. In the end, 'competition' is the only driver of lower costs.

      • Gabby says:

        YEA it takes them from Medicare where they have to have stop gaps or medical supplements for the things medicare doesn't cover to Medicaide in the Obamacare nightmare.

      • The Carpthian says:


        Tell me, Steve, just where is the research upon which you make your monetary assumptions? Or do you,like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, just pull numbers out of your rectal orifice?

        I applaud your feeble attempt at cramming Obama propagana woen everyone's throats, but the fact is that you simply do not have the facts, did not seek the facts, and qhote only facts supplied by those who are in disagreement with Ryan.

        When professionals in the CBO, who are known to spin their results in favor of Obama, claim that they dont have enough data to make the monetary assessment shoring up the DNC party line, please feel free to explode on the scene and spout any old numbers you can fart out your behind — so long as it helps the Obama agenda and advances Obama's socialist ideals.

    5. I can't believe that people in the Heritage Foundation or other conservative organizations or people in the health care industry can't see the solution to the health care issue. Health care either has to be provided by the government or the private sector. It will never work by trying to mix the two systems together because they each follow a totally different financial and accounting system. Health care run totally by the government or (Socialized Medicine) establishes the health care services they offer and its cost based on allocations extracted from the total revenues the government receives to pay for the overall cost of government. The private sector operates on supply and demand and the actual cost of health care services. Mix in innovation, technology and competition and you get the real cost of health care. If the people can't afford the real cost then the innovative and creativity of the private sector will find ways to reduce costs. The governments answer is to raise taxes.

      • paleophlatus says:

        Yes. Put the care of the People back in the hands of the doctors, but not the corporate practices. The truly needy for healthcare could always get decent care from local doctors. I recall that, in 1975 I furnished much of my new veterinary practice with x-ray and OR equipment from a small town hospital that was forced to close by the government because they didn't have "good enough" facilities. May not have been the best, but it was way better than what was left after the government "protected" the locals from the quality of health care in that town, and untold numbers of similar small town events. Not only did these towns lose a care facility, but the doctors in town often moved elsewhere, or no new ones could be enticed to come to a town with no hospital. Best thing for healthcare in America is to get the government out of all aspects of Medicine!

    6. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I've heard these in ads for Annie Kuster, who's running against Charles Bass, who happens to be my Congressman. She's wrong.

    7. Pennsylavnia says:

      Unfortunately – someone need to make it very simple for seniors to understand. They are scared

    8. Guest says:

      So the liars tell another lie. No surprise there !!!!

      Move on folks — nothing to see here !!

    9. bsaggie says:

      As usual it's vote for your country or your buyer if your vote has been paid for.

    10. Frankly Frank says:

      My father was a GP (general practitioner, "family doctor") from 1904 through 1948. He got $2.00 for an office visit and $3.00 for a house call. He never got rich, but we had a comfortable living. If a patient couldn't afford to pay his fees Dad doctored him for free. If he couldn't afford to get a prescription filled, Dad got it filled and gave it to him. If he needed hospitalization and couldn't afford it, Dad paid it for him. Nobody had health insurance in those days, and Dad's patients didn't need it. This may shock you: every doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath and promises to do what Dad did. Dad kept his word. Many others didn't then and now.

      • Bobbie says:

        I grew up in the Marcus Welby days? In those days if a person couldn't afford their expense, the hospital or doctor took the loss, not the tax payers. God Bless your father's ethics and morals, may they return to America. Not sure when or how the tax payers became responsible to costs that aren't theirs' where the corruption is immense? Doctor and patient keeps the corruption out!!! I think the Hippocratic Oath is no longer required and why would that be except lesser, even suspicious quality of care???

      • Marie says:

        Thank you for sharing your Dad's amazing sacrifice and keeping Oath Promises. These days many Doctors have forgotten their Oath promises. They work for the Insurance company not for the patient. Year end Doctor's get huge bonus from Insurance Companies. At the Clinics, Doctors can not talk to a patient more than 15 minutes. I Like Affordable Care Act, because the middle millionaires like Insurance company is no longer in control patient's life.

    11. AD-RtR/OS! says:

      Half of what politicians and their hand-maidens tell us is a lie, the rest is just not the truth.

    12. Molly Wilcox says:

      I really like this site and blog.

    13. Bo Graves says:

      The democrats are using "voucher" to confuse and scare seniors. And it's working. Need to get the true info out to them especially to the point where it is in terms that they can understand. It's hard for anybody. But if they don't understand and start believing all the dem's lies. They are going to make a big mistake at the voting booth.

    14. Ernest Allen says:

      "Medicare Advantage and . . . premiums have been stable. Patient satisfaction is very high in both programs." I support wholeheartedly the efforts in this project. But in the interest of full disclosure, I must point out a factoid. While Vantage premiums have been stable, co-pays are increasing. Next year's monthly premiums are going up 32% from $99 to $132 as are the co-pays. The service from the Vantage Plan I have has been excellent.

    15. Kent Hatcher says:

      Why doesn't anyone talk about the fact that Medicare is in bad shape because the Federal Government has robbed it. In 1989 there was enough in Social Security to pay off the National Debt. Today it is broke. The only reason it is broke is because the congress and the administrations have robbed it to pay for Pork and other items..

    16. L.RICE says:

      The new HHS mandates Catholics pay for abortion, contraceptives, Morning after pill. We will close down before we kill babies, give out abortofactants. Get ready to stand in a long line for your care. Just like we closed adoption agencies when mandated to give children to homosexual couple, in all good conscious we cannot betray God and His laws. It may be legal, it IS NOT MORAL. THAT IS THE CRUX OF THE MATTER.!!!

    17. Tom Smallwood says:

      Pardon my ignorance – I'm just a guy who spent over 20 years in the military services trying to do my part to support this county and the constitution upon which the governance of this country used to be based. I should like to know, though, when the constitution was amended to either require or permit the federal government to become responsible for or involved in anyone's health insurance. The federal government is only permitted certain functions as enumerated in the constitution. Intrusion into the personal lives of the citizenry, including health care and/or insurance, is not one of those functions.

      • Caring Karen says:

        Recommend you check Usurper Obama's amazing number of EXECUTIVE ORDERS giving him total control over land, waterways, healthcare, et al, in case of a national crisis/threat (perceived or otherwise). Draconian at best. Socialist dogma: never waste a crisis. The current administration is just waiting for a crisis, and is not past creating one or many in order to seize total control. Stay informed, PRAY and ACT!

    18. liz says:

      I am an Rn and see so many lies the liberals are spouting. If Obamacare stands, you can expect to see Drs not taking medicare patients. Care will be two tier; one for private pay patients and the rest for Obamacare Patients. When the DRGs hit back in 1983, all these things were spoken of. Hospitals panicked and sent nurses home trying to save money. My question is this, why is it so important to fix a system that is not broken? Why more important than working on unemployment that affects so many? Obamacare does have beaurecrats dictating care. I personally don't want some government hack deciding whether I can have care or not. What kind of freedom is this? sounds like communism to me.

    19. Greta says:

      Heck, my Dad would love to be paying just $6400 a year for my Mom's medicare – he's out private insurance costs, plust $12,000 a year for my Mom to be part of Medicare, which she and he both were forced into when they hit 65. They still pay a full premium amount to his Postal Service insurance, including what the USPS used to pay toward it, plus the $12,000 ($1000 a month) to medicare. If the US Government really wanted 'reform' they wouldn't force people who have existing insurance to join Medicare and then charge them extra for doing it. Mom and Dad were perfectly happy under the USPS plan they were already paying for. It covered both of them and my brother who is an invelid. If they just kept that plan for people who really needed insurance after their working life ended, it would be in better shape. I'm going to have to work until I'm 70 to get a retirement, and I don't want anyone telling me that I'll have to leave my insurance behind and go to Medicare. Why penalize people if they wait past 65 or have other options?

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