This past Friday, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan received a loud chorus of boos when he told seniors at an AARP convention that he would repeal President Obama’s healthcare law. That’s a good thing. It tells me that more beneficiaries now understand how the Affordable Care Act is helping to make the Medicare benefit stronger.
Unfortunately, according to Kaiser Health News, this same group of seniors applauded Ryan when he spoke out against a provision in the law that authorizes an expert panel to make cuts to Medicare if Congress fails to act when spending exceeds set targets. “We propose putting 50 million seniors, not 15 unelected bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions,” he said.
This applause suggests that many people are still buying into the fear messaging tactics and still believe the Affordable Care Act creates a “rationing board” or “death panels.”
As I recently told my mom, the Affordable Care Act does not create “death panels” that will make life-and-death decisions, encourage euthanasia, or ration care. It does establish a payment board— called the Independent Payment Advisory Board — but this board cannot cut benefits or make health care decisions for beneficiaries. In fact, it is prohibited under the law from restricting Medicare benefits, modifying eligibility, or increasing premiums and cost-sharing.
The board is required to cut Medicare – but only if it grows too quickly
If Medicare spending grows too quickly, the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will be required to recommend cuts. But the board will only step in and make recommendations if other measures fail to keep Medicare spending on track. And if Congress comes up with another way to achieve the savings, it can overrule the board’s proposals.
According to PolitiFact, whose mission is to help people “find the truth in American politics,” Ryan’s claim that the Independent Advisory Board is an unaccountable board that will be able to deny care and make all of Medicare’s spending decisions is an overstatement that scores a “Mostly False” on its Truth-O-Meter. For this, I give Ryan another loud boo.