Medicare Roundup 9/17: Setting the Record Straight

Alyene Senger /

In recent weeks, liberal politicians, editorialists, and policy analysts have vigorously attacked reforming Medicare based on defined-contribution financing. In fact, this approach to reforming Medicare has a long bipartisan tradition, going back to the 1980s and Representatives Richard Gephardt (D–MO) and David Stockman (R–MI). In fact, much of this criticism is distorted, misleading, or just plain wrong.

Here are some articles that set the record straight.


Medicare Reform Debate: What Really Works in Health Care Competition (Kevin Dayaratna)

The Heritage Foundation, 9/13/12

“[T]here is indeed a growing body of academic evidence that competition can help reduce health care costs.”

Top Obama Advisers Proposed Voucherizing Medicare Way Back in…2010? (Avik Roy)

Forbes, 9/13/12

“Two key Obama health-care advisers—David Cutler of Harvard and Jonathan Gruber of MIT—proposed that Obama privatize the Medicare program as part of the negotiations surrounding the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission in 2010.”

Bill Clinton on Health Care: Double Count of Medicare (Douglas Holtz-Eakin)

Politico, 9/10/12

“Presumably, one plank of [Clinton’s] argument will be to defend President Barack Obama’s handling of Medicare—particularly, doubling down on his now-discredited double counting of Medicare dollars.”

Debunking Bill Clinton’s Medicare Claims (Bob Moffit)

National Review Online, 9/10/11

“Though Obama needs help, much of what Clinton said was flat out wrong.”

The Medicare Distortions (James Capretta)

National Review Online, 9/10/12

“Put simply, Medicare was squeezed to grease the way for the president’s main first-term ambition—enactment of a government takeover of American health care.”

Bending the Cost Curve through Market-Based Incentives (Joseph R. Antos, Mark V. Pauly, and Gail R. Wilensky)

New England Journal of Medicine, 9/6/12

“The financial future of Medicare is perilous, but reforms based on premium support can set the program on a more sustainable fiscal path.”

On Health Care, Clinton Skirts the Facts (Grace-Marie Turner)

National Review Online, 9/6/12

“The Congressional Budget Office estimates there will be $716 billion in reductions in payments to Medicare providers in Obamacare.”

That Terrifying Medicare Voucher Threat (Bob Moffit)

National Review Online, 9/4/12

“There is no major Medicare reform proposal, including the Ryan proposal, that would issue future senior citizens a voucher.”

Paul Krugman Says All the Evidence Shows Government Controls Health Costs Better Than the Private Sector. Here’s Some Evidence That Says Otherwise (Peter Suderman)

Reason, 8/31/12

“[T]here are in fact studies showing that private insurers do a better job of keeping both administrative costs and premiums in check.”

Ryan and His Panicky Critics (James Capretta)

National Review Online, 8/30/12

“These criticisms of Ryan’s speech are absurd. Everything Ryan said is factual and a fair reading of the record and prior events.”

CAP Action Dowdifies CBO Medicare Report (Rea Hederman)

National Review Online, 8/28/12

“Dr. David Cutler and his co-authors assert that ‘CBO concludes that premium-support plans would achieve much of their federal savings from “increases in the premiums paid by beneficiaries, not from increases in the efficiency of health care delivery.”’ This would be a strong negative finding indeed. But that is not, in fact, what CBO concluded.”

No Ducking Medicare Anymore (J. D. Foster)

The Washington Times, 8/28/12

“Truth be told, this is not a particularly conservative approach. Many centrists and liberals have championed these reforms through the years. It is a pragmatic approach as every element builds on prominent key features in Medicare.”

Debunking Medicare Reform Myths (Alyene Senger)

The Heritage Foundation, 8/23/12

A summary of a lecture by Robert Moffit on the arguments against premium support and why they don’t hold up against the facts.

Ten Myths in the Medicare Ad Wars (John Goodman)

Forbes, 8/22/12

“Seniors are not going to be fooled by sound bites and smears.”

How Obamacare’s $716 Billion in Cuts Will Drive Doctors Out of Medicare (Avik Roy)

Forbes, 8/20/12

“This significant reduction in fees is driving many doctors to stop accepting new Medicare patients, making it harder for seniors to gain access to needed care.

Stop Demonizing Ryan and Get Something Done (Grace-Marie Turner)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/18/12

“Medicare is not sustainable, especially with more than 70 million baby boomers starting to enter the program at the rate of 10,000 a day.”

Ryan’s Plan Is Our Best Hope for Increasing Medicare Efficiency (Joe Antos)

U.S. News and World Report, 8/17/12

“Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare is our best hope for protecting seniors against the rising cost of healthcare.”

Medicare 2035: Older, Sicker, Poorer (Joe Antos)

The Daily Caller, 8/16/12

“Most of us will still be around in 25 years, and we’re beginning to wonder whether Medicare will be there for us.”

Medicare Drama More Hype Than Reality (Thomas R. Saving and John C. Goodman)

USA Today, 8/16/12

“Much has been made of the fact that Ryan would create “vouchers,” allowing seniors to buy private insurance. To hear the critics tell it, this would radically transform Medicare by “privatizing” it. But [W]e already have a voucher program under Medicare: Medicare Part C, or the Medicare Advantage program.”

Obamacare Robs Medicare of $716 Billion to Fund Itself (Alyene Senger)

The Heritage Foundation, 8/1/12

“A list of the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare and a short summary of their impact.”

Research Papers:

What Is the Regional Impact of the Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicare Advantage Payment Reductions? (Robert Book and Michael Ramlet)

University of Minnesota MILI Working Paper, September 2012

“[T]he payment reductions [in Obamacare] are not uniformly distributed across the U.S. geography. To better understand the regional impact of the Medicare fee?for?service and Medicare Advantage payment reductions, we have revised and updated our earlier MILI working paper2 to reflect the state and county?level impacts based on the updated CBO estimate.”

Why Traditional Medicare Must (and Will) Be Reformed (Bob Moffit and Alyene Senger)

The Heritage Foundation, 9/10/12

“Medicare must undergo structural reform. Its deficiencies undercut patients’ comprehensive and integrated care while increasing costs and generating debt.”

Premium Support: Medicare’s Future and its Critics (Bob Moffit)

The Heritage Foundation, 8/7/12

Moffit outlines the various arguments against premium support and debunks them with facts.

Chart book:

Medicare at Risk: Visualizing the Need for Reform

The Heritage Foundation, Updated September 2012

Charts that outline the structural and financial problems in Medicare.