March 1st, 2010
07:10 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Fact Check: Medicare cuts, again?

(CNN) - Talk of saving Medicare from a "half-trillion-dollar" cut has become a major talking point in Republican efforts to derail the Obama administration's push for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system.

Key GOP lawmakers - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee - all used it while making the rounds of Sunday's political talk shows.

"Republicans don't believe half a trillion in Medicare cuts and half trillion dollars in new taxes and possibly higher insurance premiums for all in the insurance market is reform," McConnell told CNN's "State of the Union."

Does it sound familiar? It should. CNN examined the same claim in August and found it to be misleading. Here's a refresher, updated with more recent figures:

Get the facts and the bottom line after the jump:

Fact Check: Do the Democratic health-care plans cut Medicare?

- According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the health care bill the Senate passed in December would wring $491 billion from the projected future costs of Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. The bulk of the savings would be generated by reining in the growth of payments to doctors and hospitals and from cutting subsidies to the Medicare Advantage program, which pays private insurers to provide Medicare benefits.

- The AARP, which supports an overhaul of health care, says the legislation would not cut Medicare benefits or increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, the federal health-care program for Americans over 65. But Republicans argue that there's no way to cut future costs that much without reducing services. The CBO says it is "unclear" whether the Senate bill - the rough template for the proposal the White House put forward last week - could reduce the growth of Medicare spending without reducing care.

- Incidentally, the GOP has found itself on the business end of this claim before: A 1995 plan to cut projected Medicare spending by more than $250 billion over seven years triggered a budget confrontation with the Clinton administration that partially shut down the federal government. And Ryan is currently pushing a more drastic overhaul of Medicare, one that would largely replace the program with a system of vouchers that could be used to buy private health insurance. The vouchers would take effect for people joining Medicare in 2021.

Bottom line:

The claim is still misleading. Though the full impact of the Senate bill the CBO examined may not be known for years, the proposal is aimed at cutting the rate of growth of Medicare spending without cutting benefits.

Got something that needs checking? Email us at

Filed under: CNN fact check • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    What else can you expect from the GOP? They will twist the truth as much as possible to scare you into believing something that isn't true. Straight out of the Karl Rove handbook.

    March 1, 2010 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  2. nick

    Another GOPer lie!

    March 1, 2010 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Sean

    Honestly, two things broke the government budget. Healthcare and military. Cutting medicaid will get Obama rejected in 2012, but he needs to do it. The sacrifice has to come from the government, who are giving up their political career for the good of America.

    March 1, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    Sounds like the Repubs are taking a page from the liberal playbook by claiming that cuts in the rates of future growth are cut in the program. Them democrats do that all of the time.

    March 1, 2010 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. GI Joe

    GOP Talking points GOP Talking points

    Cut your medicare
    Unplug your granny
    Death Panels
    Government Takeover
    Pay for abortions/Force abortions
    On and on and on and on and on . . . . .

    Why are they bearing false witness? Why do they want everyone to be afraid? Why do they hate so many people? WHY? Is it their religion? Are they radical?

    March 1, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  6. Jan

    Republicans don't deal in facts. They deal in propaganda.

    As we all (unfortunately) found out over the last eight years, the idea of the GOP being "Compassionate Conservatives" is nothing more than a figment of someone's delusional imagination, and a clever campaign slogan. Go away.

    March 1, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  7. Gary

    You could stand this up on an eight foot high poster board and the GOP would never agree to read it much less believe it .. they do not want the truth. The GOP wishes to do nothing but stop the President in what ever he wishes to do. No logic, no patriots and no plans. That's the GOP!

    March 1, 2010 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  8. Jan

    two years ago before President Obama was elected to office, as one who forward plans as I wrote to get a quote for insurance since I would no longer be covered by an employer; I received a repose that the insurarance company could not cover me because of pre-existing conditions. I couldn't believe it. They did noyt offer a quote. They did not even enquire how much I would be able to pay.

    As some-one who is among thge affected I can't bear to watch TV anymore to see adult men lie to the people. Just because they want to be in power. Those who know and feel the burden understand what the president is trying to do.

    My wuestion is : Do the Republicans see people as cannon fodder for their wars or people who want to fulfill the same dreams and aspirations that they have for thei families?

    March 1, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. ran

    Simple solution no reconciliation no filibuster. Give the bill an up or down vote after the House/Senate conference.

    Is it the best bill? NO

    Why? Because of the feat/hate/obstructionist/purity Republicans, Blue dogs and Lieberman.

    Get it done. No more talking, no more time for the Republicans to obstruct.

    March 1, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  10. Monrob

    I a fart could be seen... he would look like Mitch McConnell.

    March 1, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  11. Ken in NC

    Something really needs to be cut now or there will be nothing left to cut in a few years. Social Security is almost broke now and politicians complaine about that but they all keep quiet about the fact that past administrations borrowed so much from the SS Trust Fund leaning IOU's that they can't even pay that back now. That is the main reason SS is going broke. WE WAS ROBBED!!!!!

    March 1, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  12. Ray E.

    Well folks do you remember? Probably not.

    The now famous words of John F. Kennedy. "Think not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". The only thing he forgot to add was SEND MONEY! Folks, YOU FORGOT TO SEND THE MONEY!

    March 1, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  13. Monrob

    I a fart could be seen... it would look like Mitch McConnell.

    March 1, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  14. Mark L.

    "Talk of saving Medicare from a 'half-trillion-dollar' cut has become a major talking point in Republican efforts to derail the Obama administration's push for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system." It's tactics such as these that prevent us from having real Universal HealthCare Reform Coverage for ALL. People are too BLIND to understand the proposed cuts in MediCare spending are NOT meant to hurt the elderly population, but rather, to reduce wasteful, FRAUDULENT spending !! When are you people going to wake up and understand, the MediCare cuts WILL NOT AFFECT the elderly? My Father is 85-Years Old, and even he understands this WOULD NOT AFFECT his MediCare benefits. WAKE UP AMERICA !! The Grand Ol' Plunderers (GOP) are just doing everything in their power to derail Universal HealthCare Coverage for ALL !!!!

    March 1, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  15. Nancy

    GOP's should stop forcing stupid people to believe that they are on their side. People the GOP's are only out to save their pocketbooks and not yours. If they were as holy-as-thou then they would allow the system to work and see what will happen instead of predictions that it want. When they pass all the healthy price tag deals when Bush was in office they never complained but now it is a new day and not a President that don't work for the people.

    Bush never worked for the people and Chinney is a good example why. Chinney ran the White House while Bush got the credit. This is pathetic people. Look at the writing on the wall that says. The GOP is happy when we have war and big taxes for the rich. Believe it and if you don't know or think this is not true of the GOP then follow the yellow brick road to the end and see the big stop sign that says, Only the GOP can enter, all others have to choose another way. This is not fair to the American People who pay taxes also GOP's. Think of the people and not yourselves.

    March 1, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  16. Susan in NC

    What hogwash from the Republican'ts! Cutting Medicare costs is NOT the same as cutting Medicare benefits. Misleading, at best!

    March 1, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  17. Liz

    Gee, what a surprise! a fact-deficient claim by a republican. the fact is republicans are not the least concerned about reality. they think
    as long as they say something loudly and long enough, true or not, there will be people who will believe it. sadly, they're right.
    if they were true fiscal conservatives and thinking people, they would realize the way to save money all around would be to open medicare to everyone. spread the risk is good insurance practice and why medicare is teetering on the brink of insolvency. everyone on it is old or sick or both.

    March 1, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. Indy

    Everything Republicans say, needs to be fact checked. They would rather take baby steps to help middle class and take giant strides to start wars and give tax cuts to their freinds in high places. They simply have no desire to help middle class and have had decades to do something good for health care reform and chose to do nothing but help the rich, and corporations become richer. Too bad they didn't "start over" when they found out ther was no WMD in Iraq. Republicans gaining any power after terrorizing the world for eight plus years would be like rewarding Osama Bin Laden with a nobel peace prize.Republicans are the true meaning of terrorists

    March 1, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  19. Kate

    So MItch and Paul, what is your plan? If you are so interested in saving the taxpayers money, why weren't you watching and listening during the Bush administration when you gave GW a blank check to spend on wars which killed thousands of people. Was Saddam worth all those bucks and lives and a sunken American economy? That is what our children and grandchildren will be paying for. I suggest you start working with this President before the republican party finishes ruining our country.

    March 1, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. FEDFL

    Misleading? Is that the politically correct term for a "lie"?


    March 1, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  21. CBass

    Applause, applause, applause. I knew you could do it CNN. Today is a great day in journalism. CNN finally looked at the facts and didn't water it down in a false attempt to seem neutral. This is all we want from you CNN. Just the facts. We will make our own opinions.

    March 1, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  22. Yas

    The GOP claim is misleading....?? What's new? That is all they have been doing forever.

    We need to give all of Congress a wake up call and have them deal with work and live with the same stress we do!! Stop paying for their insurance, retirement (for life after just 4 years) and/or vote them out of office.

    I vote right now to change their employment/benefits contract. Hey, Corporations do it all the time. My husband worked for a MAJOR corporation then after 26 yrs they changed their whole health insurance and retirement program. So basically after retiring with 30+ years in the Co. we are paying $1400 a month for health insurance and it goes up every year.

    March 1, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  23. Zaggs

    Great fack check. Too bad the CBO actually said the Senate health care plan would cut medicare benefits. Simply do a google search for the following "The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans could see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.". So thenonly question would be if the amount is correct.

    March 1, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  24. Fed Up

    The House and Senate get a pay raise while seniors get a cut on their Social Security checks , That's the way to govern a country. Line your pockets on the backs of the taxpayers. Seniors get no increase and Medicare premiums go up – equalling a pay cut. Time to get rid of the jokers in our government. Clean house! Vote 'em in. Vote 'em out.

    March 1, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  25. balls mcghee

    Do republicans even know what they stand for anymore? if they hate government programs, why do they LOVE medicare so much. and if they love medicare so much, why cant everyone be on medicare? Talk about retards.

    March 1, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
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