Democratic Super PAC Uses Familiar Political Play To Hit Trump On Medicare

Priorities USA Motion, a Democratic tremendous PAC, introduced a brand new digital and TV advert sequence criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the many advertisements is a 15-second spot, titled “Pause,” that alleges Trump is attempting to chop Medicare through the international well being emergency.

“Our lives are on pause. We’re anxious about our well being. So why is Trump nonetheless attempting to chop our Medicare? $451 billion in cuts in the course of a lethal pandemic. Trump is placing us in danger,” the industrial’s narrator says.

The PAC, which was fashioned in 2011 to help President Barack Obama’s reelection marketing campaign, has been tapped by Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, as his most well-liked selection amongst Democratic tremendous PACS for big-donor giving.

This advert caught our consideration for 2 causes. First, the time period “Medicare cuts” has lengthy been volleyed between each Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the White Home — and infrequently has confirmed to be a robust political instrument.

Second, the connection between “cuts” to Medicare and the coronavirus pandemic was a brand new idea we needed to discover.

We reached out to Priorities USA Motion to ask for the idea of those statements.

Josh Schwerin, a PAC spokesperson, despatched us hyperlinks to information articles and confirmed that the “$451 billion in cuts” referred to Trump’s 2021 proposed finances for Medicare.

Requested to pinpoint the place the $451 billion got here from, Schwerin pointed us to a February ABC Information article that mentioned the president’s finances plan would “whack away at federal spending on well being care over the subsequent 10 years … together with $451 billion much less spent on Medicare.” He additionally despatched us hyperlinks to a February Washington Blade article and February press launch from Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) — each of which additionally cited that determine.

Cuts Or A Discount In Spending? An Argument That’s Been Round

In fall 2010, just a few months after the Reasonably priced Care Act was enacted, Republicans aired midterm marketing campaign advertisements attacking Democrats for “reducing” or “gutting” Medicare. The explanation was the regulation included a $500 billion discount in projected spending for Medicare over 10 years, which might be used to assist fund the ACA.

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The Obama administration mentioned the reductions in spending would come from decreasing funds to Medicare Benefit plans and suppliers and wouldn’t have an effect on the extent of care that Medicare beneficiaries acquired. Additionally they mentioned it will assist make the Medicare system extra financially secure.

Now, nearly 10 years later, Democrats are utilizing the identical language to criticize the White Home’s long-term plan for Medicare spending.

“‘Cuts’ is a time period that has been thrown round for a few years,” mentioned Tricia Neuman, government director of the Program on Medicare Coverage on the Kaiser Household Basis. “This can be a semantic subject that usually will get politicized, usually in an election 12 months.” (Kaiser Well being Information is an editorially unbiased program of the inspiration.)

Neuman defined that what’s being thought-about here’s a discount within the projected improve in spending over a sure interval. This discount relies on estimates of how a lot the federal government is projected to spend on applications — factoring in proposed coverage modifications — for the next 10 years, considering present ranges of spending, assumptions about financial development and developments in using Medicare protection, mentioned Neuman.

Trump’s 2021 finances blueprint for Medicare estimated that spending would improve every of the 10 years. However the estimate additionally advised that the administration’s proposed coverage modifications would scale back the spending improve in contrast with estimates of what could be spent if the modifications weren’t carried out.

“Let’s say Medicare spends $100 in 2020 and is projected to spend $200 in 2021,” Neuman mentioned. “If the finances mentioned we’re going to scale back the expansion in spending by $25, that’s a discount in a rise. However different individuals may name {that a} minimize.”

The Quantity Itself And What It Means

We reached out to the Division of Well being and Human Providers, which oversees Medicare, for its tackle that $451 billion determine however haven’t heard again.

Marc Goldwein, senior coverage director for the nonpartisan Committee for a Accountable Federal Funds, mentioned the precise determine could possibly be wherever from $400 billion to $600 billion, relying on how calculations are executed. His evaluation relied on the chief department’s Workplace of Administration and Funds calculations and landed on a determine near $505 billion. Different variables, equivalent to “doubtless financial savings from drug worth reform” — but to be enacted — transfer it nearer to $600 billion.

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The left-leaning Heart on Funds and Coverage Priorities got here up with the same estimate: $501 billion. The Congressional Funds Workplace’s estimate, not together with financial savings generated from proposed drug pricing reforms, was nearer to $400 billion.

In all instances, although, the reductions in Medicare spending could be achieved by means of proposals equivalent to decreasing funds to suppliers and paying the identical quantity for a similar well being service provided in several settings.

Goldwein mentioned these proposals for Medicare reform are largely bipartisan and “both mimic or construct upon” these superior through the Obama period. He additionally mentioned that, in his group’s view, the “cuts” are financial savings to the Medicare program and beneficiaries, who would see decrease premiums and out-of-pocket medical prices.

The coverage consultants mentioned it’s doubtless the reductions in spending wouldn’t instantly have an effect on the care that Medicare beneficiaries obtain. However supplier teams have complained that decrease reimbursements may drive some medical doctors to go away Medicare. Hospitals have argued towards the proposal for equalizing funds for related providers as a result of they are saying their overhead bills are greater than these of a physician’s workplace or off-site clinic and their greater charges assist finance different essential providers.

Timing Issues

The Priorities USA Motion advert additionally alleges that Trump is attempting to chop Medicare “in the course of a lethal pandemic.” However the timeline of occasions doesn’t help this assertion.

The White Home launched the 2021 finances proposal on Feb. 10 — nicely earlier than the COVID-19 outbreak had turn out to be part of our nationwide consciousness.

The primary home case of COVID-19 was introduced by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention on Jan. 21. The World Well being Group declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a “public well being emergency of worldwide concern” on Jan. 30.

On Feb. 10, the day the finances was launched, the CDC put out a press launch stating there have been 13 instances of the illness within the U.S. CNN additionally revealed an article that day stating the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 instances and deaths had occurred in China. Authorities didn’t announce the primary U.S. dying from COVID-19 till Feb. 29. The WHO declared a pandemic on March 11.

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“These finances proposals have been in all probability developed nicely earlier than the pandemic hit the U.S. and hit it exhausting,” mentioned Neuman. Nevertheless, she added, “the administration hasn’t disavowed these proposals, however in addition they haven’t pushed them ahead.”

Joseph Antos, a scholar in well being care and retirement coverage on the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, mentioned it was a “ridiculous assertion to attach reducing Medicare spending to the COVID disaster.”

“The implication of the video that this is happening actively whereas we’re in the course of this disaster, that’s useless fallacious,” mentioned Antos.

Our Ruling

The Priorities advert mentioned Trump is attempting to make $451 billion in Medicare cuts “in the course of a lethal pandemic.”

That is an exaggerated assault, even earlier than the pandemic is layered on high of it. The greenback determine itself is “within the ballpark” of what the coverage proposals would generate in spending reductions, giving this advert a sliver of fact. Nevertheless, within the Trump finances, the quantity is unfold over 10 years — essential context that was omitted.

What’s in Trump’s finances proposal is just not a direct minimize to Medicare. As a substitute, Priorities makes use of the age-old political tactic — employed on each side of the aisle — of holding up a discount in projected spending development as a “minimize.”

Furthermore, the advert leaves the impression that Trump is attempting to whack Medicare for seniors at a time when panic is especially excessive due to the coronavirus. However that connection to the pandemic can be deceptive. The presidential finances was launched weeks earlier than many of the nation started to grasp the specter of COVID-19.

The declare accommodates a component of fact however ignores crucial information and context that may give a distinct impression. We price it Largely False.

Associated Matters

Medicare States The Well being Regulation

KHN & PolitiFact HealthCheck Obama Administration Trump Administration U.S. Congress


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