Facts Facts Facts!

Lying Is So Much Easier

What Romney and Ryan's plans will do to current seniors. It ain't that pretty at all.

One of the many Romney-Ryan Medicare lies has to do with the "fact" that anyone older than 55 would not be affected at all by Ryan's plan. The estimable Henry Aaron of the Brooking Insitution explains that premiums for seniors who stay enrolled in traditional Medicare under Ryan would increase:

The reason is technical, but easy to understand. The premium for those who stay in traditional Medicare under the Ryan plan would be calculated as under current law, but the average cost of serving those who remain in traditional Medicare would go up as private insurance companies market selectively to those with relatively low anticipated costs. The average cost of those who remain in traditional Medicare would therefore increase. As a result of this gap, the financing for traditional Medicare would become progressively less adequate, throwing into doubt the very survival of the program.

Now, as to the broader Romney-Ryan health "plan," people 65 and older have much to fear, writes Aaron:

Health reform closes in the infamous ‘donut hole’ in Medicare drug coverage—the gap of thousands of dollars of drug costs that the original drug benefit left open. If health reform is repealed, that benefit vanishes.

Gone also would be health reform’s coverage of cost sharing for prevention services.

Gone would be the subsidies that will eventually cover 75 percent of the cost of generic drugs.

Gone would be Medicaid benefits for millions of older Americans, working and retired, who would be newly covered by Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act.

Until enactment of the Affordable Care Act, a 60-year-old who did not work for an employer that offered group health coverage had to pay high or unaffordable premiums for individual coverage or go uninsured. If health reform is repealed, they will return to that intolerable predicament.

The savings that are to be achieved under health reform would vanish. As a result, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund would be exhausted in 2016 rather than in 2024, as projected under current law.

There's a lot of material there. With the probable exception of the donut hole, I'd bet most of you (and I think you're rather intelligent people, obviously!) didn't even have any idea that the ACA did any of these things. Seniors are already saving money on prescription drugs, for example, in a range of ways.

The problem is that it's hard to explain these things. It takes more than four seconds. And it requires that people dropped some preconceived notions. Lying is so much easier. But this is the work the Obama camp has to perform. It has not been winning the Medicare argument with Romney-Ryan yet. I still think it will. But the arguments need to be very sharp and precise. Every word will matter. When you're arguing with someone who makes no remote effort even to approximate truth, you have to slice them up with facts as sharp as swords.