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He Said What? Really?

There is so much mud-slinging going on out there as the election campaigning winds down that it’s all but impossible to figure out who really said what.  Trying to sort out what things actually mean is even harder.  There are wild rumors in every news report, accusations and denials dominate the headlines, and punches and counter punches galore provide our pundits and comedians with more material than they will ever use.  It’s exhausting to try to separate fact from fiction – Solomon would have trouble at this point.

However, here is an attempt to clear up a few of the more common claims made by both sides, thanks to the good reporters at agingcare.com.  Ready?

President Obama will raise taxes – by some $500 billion!

  • The Affordable Care Act contains provisions for a Medicare payroll tax of 0.9 percent, along with a 3.8 percent investment income tax for people who make more than $200,000 a year.  Additionally, the President’s tax plan provides for letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for those same people, those who make more than $200,000 per year, while (at the same time) extending those cuts for people making less than $200,000 per year.  Here’s the point: anyone making less than $200,000 year is not likely to undergo any dramatic increase in his or her taxes.

Candidate Romney will end Medicare as we know it.

  • It is true that Romney wants to change the way the Medicare system is organized.  Instead of having a government-backed health insurance program that operates on its own, Romney is proposing a plan to have it compete  with private programs in an open market setting.  This means senior beneficiaries would no longer receive their benefits in the traditional sense but would instead be given a pre-determined amount of money from the government – a premium support voucher – that they could then use to purchase health insurance.  The payment voucher amount would be based on the prices charged by Medicare or the second-least expensive private plan, whichever is cheaper.

President Obama is cutting $500 billion from Medicare.

  • This is a statement that makes it appear that the Affordable Care Act is slashing the present Medicare budget by hundreds of billions of dollars – which is not the case.  The law actually will attempt to decrease the projected rise in Medicare costs over the next ten years.  The law does not reduce benefits for current beneficiaries.  Future costs are the focus – and none of the projected cuts or changes have yet to be implemented.  These projected cuts include limiting the growth rate of reimbursements to hospitals and other non-physician health care providers, along with private Medicare Advantage plan operators.

Candidate Romney’s Medicare plan will raise seniors’ health care costs by $6,350 per year.

  • This claim is founded on Romney’s indication that his plan for reforming Medicare will closely follow the plan put forth by his Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.  Congressman Ryan’s first plan, suggested in 2011, might very well see a senior having to pay as much as $6,400 more each year for the same Medicare plan.  It is important to point out, however, that Ryan amended his budget plans.  In the updated plan, seniors unable to find suitable private coverage would be able to enroll in a Medicare fee-for-service program.  The government payments made to seniors for purchasing health insurance would be based on the price of the second least-expensive private plan or traditional Medicare, whichever is cheaper.   At this point, then,  it’s really too soon to tell with certainty whether or not seniors will have to pay more under Ryan/Romney’s plan.

[Candidate’s Name] is waging war against [Seniors/Women/Religion] and so on…

  • We have yet to have an important election in this country without each side accusing the other of waging a crusade against one particular group of people or another.  It makes for great copy, the newsmongers eat it up, and sound-byte collectors absolutely revel in  all the noise.   This flood of rhetoric, however, obscures more than it enlightens.  Polarizing voters is not the same thing as educating and informing voters.  We’ve got to keep our wits about us and get beyond the hype and nonsense to see where we might be heading.

Special thanks 2012 agingcare.com.

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