Rep. Boustany Repeats Falsehood Intended To Scare Seniors

September 09, 2009 7:21 pm ET

On September 9, 2009, Rep. Charles Boustany took to the airwaves to rebut President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress. While Rep. Boustany may be new face to many Americans, he is spouting the same old Republican falsehoods.

Rep. Boustany: A New Face Spouting Old Falsehoods

Rep. Boustany Claimed Reform Bill "Cuts Medicare By 500 Billion Dollars." Responding to President Obama's address to Congress, Rep. Boustany said: "I read the bill Democrats passed through committee in July.  It creates 53 new government bureaucracies, adds hundreds of billions to our national debt, and raises taxes on job-creators by 600 billion dollars.  And, it cuts Medicare by 500 billion dollars, while doing virtually nothing to make the program better for our seniors." [Boustany Remarks, 9/9/09; emphasis added]

The experts beg to differ:

AARP:

Myth: Health care reform will hurt Medicare.

Fact: None of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.

Fact: Health care reform will lower prescription drug costs for people in the Medicare Part D coverage gap or "doughnut hole" so they can get better afford the drugs they need.

Fact: Health care reform will protect seniors' access to their doctors and reduce the cost of preventive services so patients stay healthier.

Fact: Health care reform will reduce costly, preventable hospital readmissions, saving patients and Medicare money.

Fact: Rather than weaken Medicare, health care reform will strengthen the financial status of the Medicare program.

Bottom Line: For people in Medicare, health care reform is about lowering prescription drug costs for people in the "doughnut hole", keeping the doctor of your choice, improving the quality of care, and eliminating billions in waste that is causing poor care and medical errors. [AARP, accessed 9/9/09]

FactCheck.org:

"None Of The 'Savings' Or 'Cuts' (Whichever You Prefer) Come From Reducing Current Or Future Benefit Levels For Seniors." According to FactCheck.org, "The House bill would trim projected increases in payments for hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and others, including home health care providers and suppliers of motor-driven wheelchairs. But it also proposes what CBO estimates is a $245 billion increase in spending for doctors, by canceling a scheduled 21 percent cut in physician payments. None of the 'savings' or 'cuts' (whichever you prefer) come from reducing current or future benefit levels for seniors." [FactCheck.org, accessed 9/9/09]

Kaiser Family Foundation:

Reform Legislation Will Allow A 5% Medicare Payment Increase For Primary Care Services To Some Physicians.  According to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of HR 3200, among other changes to the Medicare payment structure, the legislation "provides for a 5% payment bonus, effective January 1, 2011, for evaluation and management services and other services associated with ensuring accessible, continuous, coordinated, and comprehensive care when provided by a physician or other practitioner who specializes in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics or geriatrics." [KFF.org, 8/6/09]

Newsweek:

"The $560 Billion In Reductions... Is Misleading: The House Bill Also Gives Medicare $340 Billion More Over A Decade." As reported by Newsweek: "A related myth is that health-care reform will be financed through $500 billion in Medicare cuts. This refers to proposed decreases in Medicare increases. That is, spending is on track to reach $803 billion in 2019 from today's $422 billion, and that would be dialed back. Even the $560 billion in reductions (which would be spread over 10 years and come from reducing payments to private Medicare advantage plans, reducing annual increases in payments to hospitals and other providers, and improving care so seniors are not readmitted to a hospital) is misleading: the House bill also gives Medicare $340 billion more over a decade. The money would pay docs more for office visits, eliminate copays and deductibles for preventive care, and help close the 'doughnut hole' in the Medicare drug benefit, explains Medicare expert Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation." [Newsweek, 9/9/09]

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