The claim: Obama stripped billions from Medicare, demanding sacrifice of seniors
Since tapping Ryan as his running mate, Romney has faced endless questions about his plan for Medicare: In his most recent budget plan, Ryan proposed a controversial overhaul that would transform the nation's entitlement system into a voucher program. Democrats immediately seized on the plan, which Obama argued would "end Medicare as we know it," but the Romney campaign responded with a swift counter-attack, accusing the administration of trying to "rob" Medicare of $716 billion in order to fund the Affordable Care Act.
Ryan echoed that refrain in his Tuesday night remarks:
"You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it."
Later, he defended his and Romney's plan as "protecting" Medicare, while he accused the Obama administration of "raiding" it.
Did President Obama raid Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act? The Romney campaign points to a CBO report showing that if the health care law was repealed, spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion from 2013-2022. The president's health care reform law is indeed paid for in part by reducing Medicare's expected rate of growth between now and 2022. According to data from the Kaiser Foundation, however, the reductions come primarily from cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, as well as in hospital reimbursements and in payments to other providers. The Obama administration casts them as savings that would streamline the system, reduce waste and fraud, reinforce the Medicare trust fund and extend its lifeline. It does not limit access to benefits for Medicare recipients, and actually offers new preventative care benefits, as well as increased prescription drug coverage. Republicans, however, argue it creates disincentives for hospitals and doctors to accept new Medicare patients.Fact-checking the Romney-Ryan "60 Minutes" interview
In addition to the Democratic defense of the $716 billion in reductions, critics of the Romney-Ryan argument point out that that Ryan's 2012 budget would have included many of the same Medicare reductions as are outlined in the president's health care plan. The campaign has since said it would restore those reductions, but Romney has not outlined a specific plan for Medicare if elected, other than to affirm that he would implement a voucher system and extend the solvency of the program. The campaign has not relayed specifics on how he would do that, however, and the New York Times reports that the pledge to reimburse the $716 billion in reductions would alone reduce Medicare's solvency by eight years.