The Med Diva

An insider's guide to Medicare Part D and more

Archive for the category “Medicare Rumors”

No, Mom and AARP members — the Affordable Care Act does not create “death panels.”

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.


No, Mom. Your Medicare Part B premiums are not going up $247 because of Obama.

Ever since Mitt Romney picked Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, there has been a lot of discussion, misinformation, and confusion about Medicare and its outlook for current and future beneficiaries. Although I said in a past post that I have absolutely no intention of joining the Ryan-Romney-Medicare bandwagon, I just changed my mind — because now it has gotten personal.

Last night while having dinner with Mom, we got into a discussion about her Medicare supplement plan. “I have to ask you a question,” she said. “Is it really true that my Medicare premiums are going to go up about $200 in two years? That’s what one of my Republican friends told me. She said it’s all Obama’s fault, too.”
Okay, that does it, I thought to myself. I can’t keep quiet on these ridiculous, outrageous lies any more.

“No, Mom. Your Medicare Part B premiums are not going to go up because of President Obama or the Affordable Care Act. This is a complete lie based on a bogus email that went viral before the 2010 elections in an attempt to scare people like you.”

 I then explained to her that, contrary to what has now become popular belief (thanks to this email), the Affordable Care Act does not change the calculation of the Part B premium at all. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 permanently set standard Part B premiums to cover 25% of projected program costs for beneficiaries. This rule is not changing.

Under this standard calculation, if projected Part B costs increase or decrease, the premium rises or falls. Monthly Medicare Part B premiums may increase, may stay the same, or may even decrease, depending on formulas established before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. 

AARP Bulletin Senior Editor Patricia Barry (Ms. Medicare) does a good job covering all the details about this myth and Part B premiums, so check it out here if you want all the facts.

Granny, Get Your Gun — And No, Medicare Won’t Make You Tell Your Doctor!

Lately, there have been a lot of crazy rumors about Medicare spreading like wildfire on the Internet. Like the rumor that Medicare premiums are going to jump to $247 in 2014 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or that Medicare is going to refuse procedures for seniors over 75 unless an ethics panel (aka, death panel) reviews them—again, thanks to Obamacare.

But this rumor that I came across today on the Huffington Post Politics blog isMedicare Does not Ask About Guns by far the most absurd falsehood I have heard yet: Apparently, a Vietnam Vet and/or retired police officer started spreading a rumor via e-mail that Medicare regulations require doctors to ask you if you own a gun. “Be forewarned and aware,” the e-mails state. “The Obama administration has gone on record as considering veterans and gun owners potential terrorists.”

There’s a long and convoluted story behind this rumor, which you can read for yourself on Snopes, but just know that this rumor is wrong and belongs way out in left field (or maybe that should be right field in this case). Although doctors (particularly pediatricians) in most states can ask patients if they own guns if the question is relevant to the person’s medical care or safety, this question is most definitely not required by Medicare. 

So as I stated in my last post, don’t believe everything you read or hear. If you want to sort through the rumors and get to the truth, do some searches on Google to find reputable sources, or check out these fact-finding sites: or or

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