Fact Checking Joe Biden on Medicare

UPDATE (10/12/12): Rep. Paul Ryan’s very effective explanation of premium support leaves Vice President Biden smirking and under duress.

Tomorrow night, when Joe Biden debates Paul Ryan, Medicare will no doubt be front and center. The real question – especially for Vice President Biden – is whether the truth will be. For months, the Vice President and others have concocted lie after lie to demonize conservative efforts to reform Medicare and obscure Obamacare’s failures.

In the Courier-Journal (KY), Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University, describes Biden’s challenge as “stylistic”:

“Biden needs to control his tendency to go into rhetorical overdrive, ‘otherwise he stops looking vice presidential and ends up looking almost completely out of control and unqualified to step into the presidency,’ Light said.”

Professor Light may wish to add that when it comes to Medicare, the challenge is also substantive.

Biden Myth: “They’re for a new plan. It’s called ‘Vouchercare.’” (Speech at Democratic National Convention, 09/06/2012)
Fact: “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)…” – Robert Moffit, Ph.D., former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden Myth: “And they’re going to say to your mom, ‘Mom, go out there in that insurance market and bargain for the best deal you can get.” (Ohio Campaign Speech, 09/08/2012)
Fact: “The premium support concept advanced by Ryan relies on informed consumer choice of competing health plans, including traditional Medicare. Seniors would receive a fixed subsidy, higher for those with low incomes and greater needs. To attract enrollees, health plans and providers would seek ways to increase efficiency, lower cost, and reduce premiums while improving quality and customer service.” – Joseph Antos, Ph.D., former assistant director at the Congressional Budget Office

Biden Myth: “But if it costs more than the…benefits you’re now getting, they say, ‘Mom go borrow it somewhere.’” (Ohio Campaign Speech, 09/08/2012)
Fact: “…all major versions of premium support guarantee beneficiaries at least the Medicare benefits or the level of benefits they get today with access to new plans with even higher levels of coverage at competitive prices tomorrow.” – Robert Moffit, Ph.D., former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden Myth: “Folks, I ask you the rhetorical question: Can you imagine me as vice president, can you imagine the president supporting a plan that would, under any circumstances, would raise the cost for seniors $6,400, your out-of-pocket?” (Florida Campaign Speech, 9/28/12)
Fact: “The House budget resolution authored by Ryan in 2012 contains a Medicare premium-support proposal that is significantly different from the 2011 budget proposal. … Any claim, in the media or elsewhere, that uses the CBO evaluation of the 2011 Ryan plan is fundamentally flawed and erroneous.” –Rea S. Hederman, Jr., Assistant Director, Center for Data Analysis and Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Biden Myth: “All of you in this room know that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare today by the action he took.” (Florida Campaign Speech, 9/28/12)
Fact: “There is only one way to simultaneously spend trillions on new insurance subsidies, Medicaid expansions and other outlays and still make good on the future Medicare commitments: Cut an additional $716 billion elsewhere, or raise an additional $716 billion in taxes. The ACA does neither.” – Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., former director of the Congressional Budget Office

Medicare Reform Myths Debunked


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