UPDATE: Nice AP story out this AM on these very points. Basically, what’s happening here is that the ACA Medicare cuts improve the efficiency and cut costs in the program solely on the delivery side (not on beneficiaries), thus extending the lifespan of the HI trust fund. So, when Gov Romney says he won’t make those cuts, though he’s probably thinking, “this will protect seniors from Obama’s cuts,” what actually happens is seniors lose benefits they’re already enjoying from the ACA (e.g., wellness visits, drug costs in the donut hole) and the life of the trust fund is reduced by eight years.
A rousing segment tonight on MSNBC with Rev Al Sharpton and Ana Marie Cox on this whole Medicare dust up.
The facts of the case: with Rep Ryan on the ticket, and Gov Romney having endorsed Ryan’s budget—now the House R’s budget—there’s been a lot of confusion generated by the $700 billion in cuts that both the President and Rep Ryan have in their budgets. I’ve written about this as have others: see here and here.
The numbers may be the same, but in the segment, I discuss the important differences in how the savings are derived and how they’re used. In the Affordable Care Act, they’re derived from seeking efficiencies in way health care is delivered, and they’re used to provide health care to beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid.
In the Ryan budget, they’re at least partly used to pay for tax cuts weighted toward wealthy households.
A new fact in the case: it appears that Gov. Romney is now saying he won’t make these cuts, suggesting he does not now endorse the Ryan budget. What this means for Medicare is actually less important than the fact that a) he wants to repeal the ACA, which in and of itself weakens Medicare, and b) the Medicare cuts implied by Gov Romney’s budget already go deeper than the savings generated by the ACA, as we point out in this CBPP analysis.
But here’s the thing. Republicans and other alleged chicken budget hawks are constantly complaining that the President is failing to lead on fiscal issues because he refuses to tackle the entitlement “crisis.” Then, a sentence or two later, the nail him for cutting $700 billion from Medicare!
Even putting aside the fact that the vast majority of House R’s have consistently voted for those same cuts, it takes some chutzpah for zapping the President for not cutting…and for cutting.
More to come as this evolves…or devolves…in the coming days.