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KING 5 Ad Watch: Did Patty Murray cut Medicare?



Posted on October 31, 2010 at 11:00 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 1 at 6:43 AM

Commercial:  "Patty Murray on the health care bill:  Not only did I read it, but I helped to write it."
This Dino Rossi ad attacks Patty Murray for supporting health care reform, asking which part of the bill did she write?
Commercial: "The five-hundred billion dollar cut in Medicare that hurt seniors?"
This claim, that health care reform cut $500 billion from Medicare is being used by Republicans across the country, and it's not that simple. 
First of all, there is absolutely no cut to the current budget for Medicare.  In fact, some benefits are expanded such as more preventative care and better prescription drug coverage--closing the so-called doughnut hole.  And the nation's largest senior group, AARP, supports the reforms.
So was there a cut to Medicare?  It depends on how you define a cut.  Over the next ten years, Medicare spending will still go up, but Democrats voted to curtail that future growth by hundreds of billions of dollars.  The government would cut future subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, that millions of seniors choose as an alternative to traditional Medicare.  Hospitals and providers would see smaller increases in future payment rates.  And seniors earning more than $85,000 a year would see higher insurance premiums.
Democrats say these changes will extend the life of Medicare, keeping it stable, longer.  Democrats argue, while these changes will put pressure on hospitals and insurance companies, they will not hurt seniors.  But Republicans say, you can't chop $500 billion in future spending without seniors feeling the pinch.
We won't know the true impact for many years, but what you should know about the claim in this commercial is that Medicare has not yet suffered a $500 billion cut.  It is however, a reduction in future spending increases.