Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely claimed that seniors with preexisting medical conditions would be denied Medicare coverage under the GOP’s plan. The House GOP plan specifically says insurance companies “must agree to offer insurance to all Medicare beneficiaries.”
She also repeated a false Democratic talking point that future beneficiaries — those who are now younger than 55 — would be left on their own to buy insurance in the private market. The GOP plan, as we have written before, would provide subsidies for future beneficiaries to buy private insurance from a Medicare exchange set up by the government.
This is not a close call or a matter of opinion:
The Republican plan — dubbed “Path to Prosperity” by its chief architect, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — would make no changes in Medicare for those 55 and older. But it would make significant changes to Medicare for those younger than 55 — just not as described by the Florida Democrat. The plan would provide future beneficiaries with government subsidies to purchase health insurance through a Medicare exchange set up by the government.
Moreover, it’s not just the head of the DNC who is lying about what is in the plan. “Wasserman Schultz also misrepresents Ryan’s plan when she says it tells future beneficiaries: ‘You’re on your own. Go and find private health insurance.’ This mischaracterization of Ryan’s plan has become a Democratic talking point — one we wrote about when President Barack Obama made a similar inaccurate claim.”
On his Fact Checker blog, The Post’s Glenn Kessler awards Wasserman Schultz three “Pinocchios” and reaches exactly the same conclusion:
One can certainly raise serious questions about whether the Republican plan is adequately funded and, over time, would shift too much of the financial burden to beneficiaries. One could also question whether the elderly would be eager to navigate different choices for their health-care coverage, compared to the much simpler system that now exists. There are certainly details in the GOP plan, which has not been drafted as actual legislation, that need to be addressed. But Wasserman Schultz is jumping to conclusions — not to mention scaremongering metaphors — to describe provisions in the GOP Medicare plan that just do not exist.
Unfortunately, the media largely reports the Democrats’ charges as if they are simply the Democrats’ “side” of the argument. Even worse, some mainstream outlets still inaccurately refer to Ryan’s plan as a “voucher” system. But in this case the facts aren’t a matter of honest debate. At the House Budget Committee Web site Ryan explains:
Beginning in 2022, beneficiaries are guaranteed a choice among Medicare-approved private health options and a premium-support payment to help pay for the cost of that plan. The plans, which will also be listed on a new Medicare exchange, are required to provide coverage to any Medicare beneficiary that asks. As the Congressional Budget Office notes: “Plans would have to issue insurance to all people eligible for Medicare who applied”. . . In other words, all Medicare beneficiaries are guaranteed that a health plan will be available for them.
How often have you seen that reported by mainstream news outlets? Moreover, the plan is quite explicit on the type of insurance coverage the premium price supports will help pay for:
The Path to Prosperity requires every plan made available to Medicare beneficiaries to provide — at a minimum — the same standard value of benefits that Members of Congress and other federal employees receive. The Office of Personal Management, the agency managing the Federal Health Benefits Program, would apply the same standards to Medicare plans that they apply to plans received by Members of Congress. This reform means that seniors and Medicare beneficiaries will have access to private plans that provide real benefits and real coverage options. Seniors will be able to see what each plan offers and choose the one that works best for them.
Unfortunately, the only thing being “thrown to the wolves” in the Medicare debate are the facts.