The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Robert Meissner, Deputy Director of Communications
Bryan Fisher, Press Secretary

Governor Romney's Breathtaking Falsehoods and Misleading Statements about Health Care

During last night's presidential debate, issues about Medicare, Medicaid, and health care received considerable attention. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the health consumer organization Families USA, about that portion of the debate:


During last night's presidential debate, issues about Medicare, Medicaid, and health care received considerable attention. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, Executive Director of the health consumer organization Families USA, about that portion of the debate:

"While pundits have largely agreed about who won the presidential debate based on style, it is clear who had the better health care facts. Governor Romney made a number of assertions about health care that were breathtakingly false and misleading. His admissions were also noteworthy because they showed how damaging his health care proposals are for America's seniors and families.

"Governor Romney's false and misleading health care comments were numerous, including the following:

"First, he said that he proposes no cutbacks for current Medicare beneficiaries. This is absolutely and demonstrably untrue. By repealing ObamaCare, he would cut prescription drug benefits for seniors and people with disabilities who have high medicine costs, and he would eliminate free preventive care services like check-ups, mammograms, and colonoscopies. Already, 25.7 million Medicare beneficiaries have received free preventive health care services to keep them healthy--but Governor Romney's proposed repeal of ObamaCare would take those free benefits away.

"Second, he impliedtime and time again that ObamaCare will hurt Medicare beneficiaries by cutting the program by $716 billion over 10years. Quite the contrary. ObamaCare stabilizes the Medicare program by adding eight years to the life of the Medicare hospital trust fund. It doesn't reduce benefits at all for seniors or people with disabilities, and it protects them by reducing insurance and pharmaceutical company waste. This improves the program's solvency for current and future seniors. Ironically, ObamaCare in this respect is identical to a proposal by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, which Governor Romney now repudiates.

"Third, Governor Romney says he will improve Medicaid by turning it into a block grant that would give governors greater discretion about how to run the program in a way that will be more helpful for the children, seniors needing long-term care, and low-income families that depend on the program. This is beyond nonsense. It is impossible to improve the program by cutting huge amounts of federal funds from the program--cuts of one-third by the next decade--cuts that states simply can't make up given their current fiscal circumstances. The ultimate result is that millions of people inevitably will lose their health care lifeline.

"Fourth, Governor Romney said that 20 million people will lose health insurance under ObamaCare when it goes into effect. This assertion deserves its own special place in the Chutzpah Hall of Fame. As the Congressional Budget Office found, under ObamaCare, health coverage would expand to more than 30 million people who would otherwise be uninsured. In contrast, under Governor Romney's current proposals, the number of uninsured would increase to 78 million people within a decade, an increase of more than 60 percent from the numbers in the latest Census Bureau report.

"At least as revealing as these claims were the admissions that Governor Romney made during the debate. Two very important ones deserve special attention.

"The governor admitted that future seniors will experience a very different Medicare program than the one that exists today. Specifically, he wants to change the program into a voucher-care system that will put seniors to the mercy of private insurance companies. Under that system, seniors would receive a government voucher to cover a portion of private insurance premiums,and seniors would pay the remaining premium costs out of their own pockets. Over time, as the value of government vouchers covers smaller and smaller portions of insurance premiums, seniors would pay more and more. Increasingly, Medicare would become unaffordable.

"Additionally, when asked how he would replace ObamaCare, he admitted,and his campaign spokesperson, Eric Fehrnstrom, confirmed,that people with pre-existing conditions would be protected from insurance company coverage denials only if they'd had continuous health coverage in the past. As a result, the millions of people who were previously denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and cancer) would be left out in the cold.

"Governor Romney's health care admissions, and certainly his breathtaking falsehoods and misleading comments, are not a recipe for improving our nation's health care system. Indeed, his vision for Medicare, Medicaid, and the health care system takes us in the wrong direction for achieving high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

Families USA is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Working at the national, state, and community levels, we have earned a national reputation as an effective voice for health care consumers for 25 years.