Medicare recipients nationwide are getting a scare as television spots aimed out ousting Democratic leaders claim they plan to reduce benefits by $500 billion. The ad’s message, which is repeated in different spots around the country, has been denounced by Democratic leaders as false.
In Florida, an ad that says seniors will be living a “nightmare” because Sen. Bill Nelson voted for the cuts is the most-aired spot in his re-election race, Bloomberg News reported.
The problem is that there’s no truth to the claim, even Republican experts say. Gail Wilensky, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare under President George H.W. Bush and is a senior fellow at a health-research organization in Virginia, told Bloomberg News that the ad is needlessly scaring Medicare recipients.
“There are no reductions in the Medicare benefits promised in law,” she said.
The ad assumes that insurers will cut Medicare benefits to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “ObamaCare.” The act scales back payments to Medicare Advantage plans, which are an alternative to traditional Medicare, Bloomberg reported. The Affordable Care Act itself did not reduce benefits to seniors, and both Democrats and independent analysts say the act will reduce the national debt over time.
Republican-aligned groups like the Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are banking on the hope that voters won’t make the distinction. These groups have sponsored the attack ads that are outnumbering positive ads 3-to-1, a media tracking group found.
It’s a lie that has gained traction among Republicans nationwide. Shortly after the Supreme Court voted to uphold health care reform, New Jersey Republican congressman Jon Runyan repeated the $500 billion price tag claim, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.
“My constituents simply cannot afford the $500 billion in new tax increases and $500 billion in Medicare cuts required to pay for this flawed legislation, nor can our economy sustain the job-killing mandates and regulations it imposes,” Runyan said in a press release.
But Runyan’s claims have run into the same kind of criticism as the attack ad. Politifact New Jersey, a fact-checking service run by The Star-Ledger, rated his Medicare scare claim “mostly false.”