KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

A Flood Of Post-Debate Fact Checking Follows Points And Counterpoints

News outlets examined a range of issues brought up during last night's presidential face-off, ranging from discussions of the $716 billion Medicare cut to talk of death panels and whether the health law promise of lower health insurance costs came true.

The Washington Post: Fact Check: The $700B Medicare Cut
Romney accused Obama of taking $716 billion from Medicare. This $700 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as "the baseline") and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. In fact, the Obama health-care law also raised Medicare payroll taxes by $318 billion over the new 10-year time frame, further strengthening the program’s financial condition (Kessler, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Romney's Charge On Obama's $716-Billion Medicare Cut
Mitt Romney repeated a somewhat misleading claim that President Obama cut $716 billion out of the Medicare program for current beneficiaries. The president's healthcare law does reduce future spending on Medicare, but those savings are obtained by reducing federal payments to insurance companies, hospitals and other providers, and do not affect benefits for people in the Medicare program (Levey, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Romney Repeats Erroneous Claims On Healthcare
Mitt Romney repeated a number of erroneous claims during Wednesday's debate about President Obama's healthcare law, including that it relies on a board that will decide "what kind of treatment" patients can get. This is a myth advanced repeatedly by critics of the Affordable Care Act and debunked consistently by independent fact-checkers (Levey, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Presidential Debate: It Always Comes Back To The 'Death Panels'
Just what to do with the nation's healthcare system has been argued time and again – but it always seems to come back to the "death panels." Such was the case at the debate in Denver on Wednesday night, when moderator Jim Lehrer asked the candidates whether Obamacare, one of the most contentious issues this election season, should be repealed (Semuels, 10/3).

Politico: Debate Fact Check: Analyzing Health-Care Statements
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had at it out over health care Wednesday night — providing some of the toughest, and wonkiest, moments of the night. Both candidates also showed they had done their research, citing studies to back their claims about Obama's health care law and how the other would cut Medicare spending — but they both managed to stretch the truth (Nather and Kenen, 10/4).

The Washington Post: About That Unelected Medicare Board
Just how will the IPAB work? Its powers kick in only if federal spending on Medicare exceeds yearly targets set by the law. At that point the board must propose spending cuts. Congress could overrule the panel, but only if it musters a super-majority in the Senate, or comes up with an alternate plan that saves at least as much (Aizenman, 10/3).

NPR: Romney Goes On Offense, Pay For It In First Wave Of Fact Checks
Has the president put in place a plan that would cut Medicare benefits by $716 billion? Romney says yes. The president says no. According to PolitiFact, Romney's charge is "half true." … In listing his objections to the Affordable Health Care Act, Romney said it "puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people, ultimately, what kind of treatments they can have. I don't like that idea."  But the Times and National Journal have reported that the board in question wouldn't make treatment decisions, a point Obama made during the debate. National Journal called Romney's characterization of what this board would do "one of the biggest whoppers of the night" (Memmott and Montgomery, 10/4).

The New York Times: Check Point: Taking Stock Of Some Of The Claims And Counterclaims
Mitt Romney repeatedly questioned President Obama's honesty at Wednesday night's debate — likening the president and vice president at one point to his five sons repeating things that were not true — but he made a number of misleading statements himself on the size of the federal deficits, taxes, Medicare and health care (Cooper, Calmes, Lowrey, Pear and Broder, 10/4).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: 'Obamacare' Hasn't Yet Reduced Health Insurance Costs
President Obama reiterated a claim that his healthcare law will reduce costs, a promise he made when he started pushing for an overhaul as a candidate four years ago. Then, Obama said he would cut family health insurance premiums by $2,500 by the end of his first term. Today, this stands as one of the president’s biggest unfulfilled promises. In fact, the average employee share of an employer-provided health plan jumped from $3,515 in 2009 to $4,316 in 2012, an increase of more than 22%, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (Levey, 10/3).

CNN: Fact Check: Would Repeal Of Obamacare Hike Seniors' Drug Costs?
President Barack Obama said the repeal of Obamacare would cause seniors' prescription drug payments to rise. "We were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600," Obama said during his debate with GOP challenger Mitt Romney. He went on to say that if Obamacare were repealed, "those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care." Nearly 5.4 million Medicare recipients saved more than $4.1 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an August news release. "Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the 'donut hole' have saved an average of $768," she said. The law helps make Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable (10/4).

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