Obama Misrepresents Republicans’ Plan to Reform Medicare

By Fred Lucas | April 20, 2011 | 5:40 AM EDT

President Obama answers questions about the budget, the deficit, and America’s fiscal future at a town hall event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (White House photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A fact-check group says President Barack Obama has misrepresented and “exaggerated” the House Republicans’ deficit-reduction plan, but he’s sticking with his interpretation of what the Republican legislation would mean for seniors.

“The House Republicans just passed a proposal, and their main plan to reduce our long-term deficits and debt is to turn Medicare into a voucher program,” Obama told a town hall meeting in Annandale, Va., on Tuesday.

According to Obama, the Republican proposal would give senior citizens “a set amount of money” to buy insurance in the private marketplace. But, he added, “If the voucher you were getting (was) for $6,000 or $7,000, and the insurance company said it’s going to cost you $12,000 -- well, you’re going to have to make up that difference.”

The non-partisan Factcheck.org says Obama is exaggerating the impact of the Republicans’ Medicare reform proposal.

“He said the GOP plan would replace Medicare with ‘a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry,’” Factcheck said on its Web site. “That’s an exaggeration. Nothing would change for those 55 and older. Those younger would get federal subsidies to buy private insurance from a Medicare exchange set up by the government.”

In a speech on Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College, Obama described Medicare as “one of the most important pillars of our social safety net, and he once again rejected the Republicans’ attempt to “fundamentally change Medicare as we know it.”

“I think that is the wrong way to go,” he said of the Republican plan. “Having said that, we are going to have to reform Medicare and our entire health care system in order to improve quality for the amount of money that we spend -- because we spend much more money in this country on health care than any other industrialized country, and our outcomes aren’t better.”

Obama said he will strengthen Medicare and Medicaid through “common-sense reforms that will get rid of, for example, wasteful subsidies to insurance companies.” He said his plan would make it easier for people to buy generic drugs and for health care providers to “manage care for the chronically ill more effectively.”

Obama said that squeezing “inefficiencies” out of the health care system will allow the nation to “maintain Medicare as we know it, but still reduce the cost to the federal government and to everybody in society.”