LETTER: Affordable Care Act Will Strengthen Medicare
Repealing Medicare would threaten essential care for thousands of New Hampshire residents.
To the Editor:
I admire Jennifer Horn’s concern for her parents and the future of Medicare. Unfortunately, I believe she misunderstands and therefore misconstrues both Gov. Romney’s and President Obama’s proposals to address this critical program. The truth is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) strengthens Medicare, not weakens it.
First, the ACA does not reduce Medicare benefits. The $716 billion Horn and Romney refer to are not cuts but reductions in the rate of growth of Medicare spending. The bulk of these savings come from eliminating excess payments to insurance companies; cutting fraud and abuse; and reducing the rate of growth in reimbursements to hospitals, equipment manufacturers, and other providers, though not physicians.
Second, the ACA strengthens Medicare. It extends the life of the Medicare Part A Trust Fund from 2016 to 2024, which is why the AARP supported Obamacare. It also begins closing the notorious prescription drug doughnut hole, saving 13,000 New Hampshire residents an average of $620 each, and it introduces free preventive care.
Third, Paul Ryan's budget, which the House enacted earlier this year and Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta supported, also includes the $716 billion in reductions in future Medicare spending.
Fourth, by pledging to "restore" the $716 billion in savings, Romney will move the date of exhaustion of the trust fund back to 2016, reopen the doughnut hole and remove the other benefits introduced by the ACA. This will be a disaster for older adults. Gov. Romney’s supporters should ask him what he will do when the trust fund runs out in 2016. One Romney advisor has suggested Romney might begin increasing the age of eligibility for Medicare. Clearly, this all makes a mockery of the pledge by Romney and Ryan that their Medicare proposals will not affect individuals over age 55.
Currently, 221,000 New Hampshire residents rely on Medicare. By repealing the Affordable Care Act, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would threaten the essential coverage Medicare provides. They would re-open the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” leaving New Hampshire seniors paying thousands of dollars for the prescriptions they need. And they would increase seniors’ health care costs by repealing seniors’ access to preventive care with no out of pocket cost.
The bottom line is that President Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare savings won’t cut benefits, and it extends the life of the Part A Trust Fund by eight years, which is why Representative Ryan included these savings in his budget bill. If Jennifer Horn is concerned about the future of Medicare, she should support the President’s position.