PolitiFact Calls Democrats Claim That Ryan Plan Would End Medicare “Pants On Fire” Wrong

Yesterday the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came out with a web ad that claimed that the House budget plan drafted by Paul Ryan would end Medicare and force seniors to pay as much as $12,000 a year for health insurance. Politifact took a look at the claim, and utterly destroyed it:

Yes, the Republican plan would be a huge change to the current program, and seniors would have to pay more for their health plans if it becomes law. Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have said they are strongly opposed to the plan.

But to say the Republicans voted to end Medicare, as the ad does, is a major exaggeration. All seniors would continue to be offered coverage under the proposal, and the program’s budget would increase every year.

Republicans say that future spending projections for Medicare are not sustainable, and the program requires changes. Their proposal “protects and preserves Medicare — with no disruptions — for those in and near retirement and provides those now under the age of 55 with a strengthened, personalized Medicare program they can count on when they retire,” said Conor Sweeney, a spokesperson for House Budget Committee.

Democrats, though, contend that the proposal would change the essential nature of Medicare as a guarantee of health coverage for seniors. The Congressional Budget Office released a detailed analysis of the proposal, and concluded that future beneficiaries would pay more for current levels of coverage, and that some will decide to go without any insurance.

The Republican proposal will end the aspect of Medicare that directly covers specific services, such as hospital coverage. “It’s as if you took the Office of Faith-Based Partnerships and ended the faith-based portion of it, but continued to call it faith-based,” said Jesse Ferguson of the DCCC. “There is no doubt that Medicare — a health insurance program for seniors — would end under the House Republican plan and, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office, health insurance costs would rise for seniors.”

Democrats, including Obama, have said the plan would end Medicare “as we know it,” a critical qualifier. But the 30-second ad from the DCCC makes a sweeping claim without that important qualifier .

Another problem with the ad is that it claims that participants would have to find $12,500 to pay for Medicare. That number is based on statistics compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The ad doesn’t mention, though, that the number includes money that would go to Medicare in any case. The CBO estimates beneficiaries would contribute about $6,150 in premiums in 2022 if the program isn’t changed at all. So the extra money seniors need to pay under the Republican proposal is more like $6,350.

Still another problem with the ad involves who’s immediately affected by the Republican proposal. In one scene, the ad shows a senior citizen pushing a walker behind a lawn mower. A teenager looking on eats an apple and says, “You missed a spot.” In reality, people 55 and older won’t see changes under the Ryan plan. It’s actually that teenager — or anyone else 54 or younger — who would pay extra money when they are older.

And finally, the ad neglects another critical fact: The Republicans voted on a budget resolution that states policy preferences, but the vote did not actually change Medicare, much less end it.

But, hey, what are facts when there’s a political fight to demagogue?

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Healthcare Policy, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    Hint — just because the program will still be called Medicare doesn’t mean it is the same program. Politifacts is the one who is wrong, not the ad.

  2. john personna says:

    Well, does “new GM” equal “old GM?”

    Same deal.

  3. David M says:

    Not sure what they destroyed but their own credibility.

    Shorter PolitiFact as they are willing bamboozled: “The fact that the GOP calls their plan Medicare is more important than the fact it isn’t Medicare”

    The GOP wants to end Medicare, end of story and the more times that truthful statement is repeated the better off the country will be. Maybe some good will finally come from scaring some old people.

  4. Terrye says:

    I work for a home health care agency and I deal with programs like medicare and medicaid all the time..medicare has already been cut. In fact my agency is debating whether or not to continue to accept medicare payments because the government has informed us they will cut what we get…and as for people paying more, most people on medicare already have supplemental insurance to cover their expenses because medicare certainly does not guarantee free health care to people.

    The Democrats are going to lie about this and refuse to be honest about the choices people face. They will tell these seniors that if we just tax the bad rich people they will get lots of free stuff…and the Democrats know that is bs when they say it.

    So, if politifact right here? They are being more honest about the future of this program than the Democrats are being..and sooner or later these realities will have to be dealt with.

  5. David M says:

    Terrye is arguing against a strawman here, as I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a supporter of Medicare argue that Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates and rising health care costs aren’t real issues.

    The difference is that most people are smart enough to realize simply voucherizing Medicare doesn’t address either of those issues, it makes them worse.

  6. hey norm says:

    same deal? in what world?
    Medicare is a single payer system – the government is the single payer. Ryan Medicare shifts the costs to seniors. apples and orangutans.
    Medicare covers hospitalization to a pretty generous limit, and covers 80% of medical expenses without limit as far as I know. Ryan Medicare gives you voucher $6000 and tells you to have a nice time negotiating with private insurance companies when you are old and have limited resources and faculties. apples and orangutans.
    All seniors are covered by medicare, regardless. private insurance companies are not required to cover anyone they don’t want to cover. ryan helps them in this regard by also abolishing the ACA. all seniors have a pre-existing condition – they are old!!! one of the reasons we have medicare is that in the 60’s private insurance companies did not want to cover seniors. why is that going to be any different is ten years?
    I generally have a high regard for Politifact, but they got this dead wrong. (I believe they got Bush’s privatization of Social Security wrong too using the same faulty logic.) i bet you they issue a clarification soon. there’s a lot of buzz about this.
    But it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect, not even me. Well maybe Wiley, but in a completely different way.

  7. mantis says:

    Under their plan, Medicare would be replaced with something wholly different, while still being called Medicare. It’s not the same thing. They want to end Medicare, a government run, single-payer health care system, and replace it with a privatized voucher system. That’s ending Medicare. Politifact got this one wrong.

  8. Terrye says:

    I am not the one who is using a straw man here. I actually deal with this stuff all the time. I know some old folks right now who are facing the loss of their home and yet both of them are on medicare…why? Because medicare does not pay for long term care.

    The point is that Ryan is being honest with people, while the Democrats are feeding them a line of crap about how all you have to do is tax some rich people and the present system can go on forever…in spite of the fact that the present system is running in the red right now.

    This program works a lot like the Part D program which allows seniors to make choices about their care, but helps pay for the costs.

  9. hey norm says:

    um…terrye…”…all you have to do is tax some rich people and the present system can go on forever…” is a quote from a straw man . no one – but you – has ever said that.

  10. David M says:

    Shorter Terrye “Medicare isn’t perfect, so let’s end it and hope for rainbows and unicorns”

    Ryan’s plan will make those situations worse and more common.

  11. michael reynolds says:


    That’s a chart showing what private health insurance actually covers.

    Now imagine what they’ll cover for a 70 year old.

    Ryan’s plan is bull.

  12. Terrye says:


    For heavens sake, 70 year olds already have insurance. What do you think AARP makes it money off of? Most people on Medicare have insurance because Medicare does not pay for a lot of things, and whether the Democrats want to be honest about it or not..it will pay for even less in the future.

    And Sullivan is an idiot.

  13. Terrye says:

    David M:

    No, Ryan’s program won’t make those problems worse.

  14. Terrye says:

    hey norm:

    Straw man? I have been listening to Democrats tout taxation of the rich as a problem solver for years.

    Five years ago the Republicans came up with a plan to reform Social Security and the likes of Nancy Pelosi said there would not be a problem with Social Security for decades. She was either lying or trying to buy votes or both and now we know it..and the Democrats did not offfer an alternative plan either. They just said there was no problem and the Republicans want to kill old people,

    Now they are saying that Ryan’s plan will not only kill Medicare it will deprive the elderly of medical coverage…never mind the fact the present system can not and will not continue. Never mind the fact that people are already depending on private insurance to supplement medicare. The truth is Ryan has come up with a plan to keep the system solvent..something the Democrats have yet to do.

  15. David M says:

    Wow, there still are people that supported social security privatization? Anyway, thanks for the heads up not to take you seriously, Terrye!

  16. hey norm says:

    terrye…ryan “keeps the system solvent” by abolishing it. thank you mr. orwell.
    this is pretty simple stuff.
    there is no problem for ss for decades, and minor changes at the edges will fix that.
    same with medicare. yes it needs fixing. the primary problem with medicare is health care costs – not who pays those costs. ryans manifestio does not address health care costs at all, and in fact makes costs worse, by abolishing the ACA.
    the ACA helps medicare in the short term by finding $500b in savings. yes those dollars are re-used. when i find savings in my budget i re-use those savings elsewhere in my budget. the ACA helps medicare in the long run with programs that should lower the cost of health care, but have not been scored by the cbo and not included in the projections. (if it was the ryan plan he would have taken wildly exagerated numbers from the heritage foundation for those programs and called them gospel.)
    anyway – to say the democrats have not come up with a plan is just wrong. the democrats not only have the beginnings of a plan, but they have started to implement that plan. (the republicans voted against it – even though it is a republican plan.) does more hard work need to be done? sure. is simply abolishing the program so that you can give more tax cuts to the weathy the answer? no.

  17. Terrye says:

    hey norm:

    No, Ryan keeps the program solvent by reforming it. Democrats will probably just lie to win the next election. That is as far as they can see. The point is the system as it exists today can not continue indefinitely.

    and the idea that Obamacare will save medicare is a big fat joke. One of the reasons seniors hate Obamacare so much is that it robs Medicare to pay for Obamacare..that is why my company is being told it will receive less in the way of compensation for home health care visits.

  18. David M says:

    As usual, there’s a good chance the trolls are either gullible beyond belief or simply full of crap. According to the WSJ: Medicare Home Visits Rates have been changing to stop abuse and fraud.

  19. Hey Norm says:

    Terrye…think this through…throwing people out of a government run system into a private system is not a reform. It is a fundamental change.
    I did not say the ACA was going to save Medicare. I said it’s a positive step forward. Ryans plan goes back to a system that DID NOT work in the 60’s.
    (Is that what the baggers mean by Take America Back?)

  20. john personna says:

    By “same deal” I meant that you can do a totally different thing, and call it by the same name.

    That hardly makes it the same thing.

  21. michael reynolds says:


    You are utterly and completely ignorant of the facts of health insurance.

    I had to form my own corporation in order to get insured in CA after moving from NC. I could not get private insurance, period, not for any price at age 55.

    I think you’re a health insurer troll.

  22. David M says:

    Here’s some world class entertainment:

    the idea that Obamacare will save medicare is a big fat joke. One of the reasons seniors hate Obamacare so much is that it robs Medicare to pay for Obamacare

    First, “The Affordable Care Act improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially”, 2010 Medicare Trustees Report, page 8. There is no dispute that Medicare is on more solid footing thanks to the Democratic Party.

    Secondly. the Ryan plan keeps the Medicare cuts you’re complaining about, but then turns around and cuts tax rates for the top earners while ending Medicare. And we’re not supposed to laugh at the idea that this is keeping the system solvent?

  23. Tlaloc says:

    I have a fair amount of respect for politifact and a hell of a lot of respect for the job they are trying to do. That said I think they missed the point here by miles.

    There is a huge difference between insurance vouchers and an actual guaranteed insurance program. Namely the latter guarantees insurance while the former at best subsidizes it. There’s absolutely no guarantee that anyone will have insurance under the Ryan plan. That’s 180 degrees off the medicare course, and to say that it is continuing the medicare program is just wrong. Politifact here is simply wrong, and I hope they re-examine the issue and retract their previous claim.

  24. Tano says:

    But, hey, what are facts when there’s a political fight to demagogue?

    What an utterly ignorant statement.

    No matter how you come down on the merits of various plans, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the dispute being referred to here is a matter of semantics, not facts.

    Does the Ryan plan constitute an end to Medicare and its replacement with some other system? In which case the Dems are totally correct?
    Or can it legitimately be called a modification, or reform of Medicare? In which case the Repubs at least have a credible ground on which to stand to make their arguments?

    Does “Medicare” – the term – refer to the general principle that the government is committed to helping deal with healthcare for seniors, in some manner or another?

    Or does “Medicare” refer to the specific program, of government insurance, that exists today, and which the Ryan plan most certainly intends to dismantle.

    Personally, I think it is somewhat of a slam-dunk for the latter point, but either way, it is beyond my comprehension why Doug is either unable to understand the dispute, or understands it perfectly well and just wishes to demagogue it.

  25. Dodd says:

    Mediscare demagoguery is even older and tireder than their abuse of the word “extremist.”

    Democrats have forgotten Alinsky’s Rule 7.

  26. Hey Norm says:

    I don’t know what Alinskys rule #7 is.
    I know if Ryans plan was as awesome as some believe then we wouldn’t be waiting for ten years, running up deficits the entire time, to implement it.
    Call that Norms rule #2.

  27. Hey Norm says:

    Norms rule #3…don’t demagogue the debt limit when you have done nothing but inflate the debt.

  28. Axel Edgren says:


    So I am now smarter than Politifact. Cool.

  29. sam says:


    ‘Mediscare demagoguery is even older and tireder than their abuse of the word “extremist” ‘

    Seriously, Dodd — did you sleep through the ACA debate?

  30. tom p says:

    But, hey, what are facts when there’s a political fight to demagogue?

    Doug, what are facts? To be ignored? I am 52. Under the GOP plan there will be no medicare when I retire. I’m sorry if you don’t like that fact but there it is. Their plan is to give me a voucher to buy health insurance I will never find… I have a pre-existing condition, at 65 where am I going to find an ins,co, willing to insure me at any price?

    The Republican medicare plan can be summed up in a single word: Die.

  31. jwest says:

    Here’s an idea.

    If liberals don’t agree with the Ryan plan, they may want to come up with an alternative plan that reaches the same goals (without lying and accounting tricks), then present it to the people and explain why their plan is superior.

    Just shooting from the hip here….

  32. mantis says:

    If liberals don’t agree with the Ryan plan, they may want to come up with an alternative plan that reaches the same goals (without lying and accounting tricks), then present it to the people and explain why their plan is superior.

    You may not have noticed, but the Democrats passed their plan last year. It was kind of big news.

  33. Wiley Stoner says:

    Is there some part of “not sustainable” many hear do not understand? To the idiot who said “tax the rich”. I guess the rich can be taxed into paying off our deficit, out health care and all the other little programs which are useless like the cowboy poetry fest. Whats the matter dude, got a little unit? Why is it you want what someone else earned? Taxing the rich at 100% will not pay those bills. Pretty soon they will come after your money, that is if you work. What most idiots do not understand is the rich do not pay taxes, they pass them on through goods and services to you. When did you get the idea that in a free society you are intitled to anything belonging to someone else. If they want to give, that is up to them, but their fair share is no larger, percentage wise than yours. I guess you are a thief at heart.

  34. Wiley Stoner says:

    Mantis, you may recognize the fact the democrats passed that bill is why the House is made up of the people it is today. What part of rejection did you miss. The american people do not like Obama care and we hear the lies and still don’t like it. The donks did not give a crap about what the american people wanted. That will result is further losses and reversals. You are on the worng side. Admit it and get used to it. Loser.

  35. David M says:

    This thread is comedy gold, one of the best illustrations how most of the conservative trolls commenters here not only don’t know anything about the ACA or health care reform in general, but that they won’t stop boasting about how little they know. I don’t think I’ve seen one comment here from a conservative in this thread that didn’t fall into one of these categories: willfully dishonest about the ACA, clueless about health care reform or arguing against a strawman. (Pretty strong evidence how weak their actual position is.)

  36. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The real irony of Medicare (and of Social Security, too) is that Generation Y largely will have to support whatever remains of the program in 10-20 years. Since that generation happens to be the most idiotic collection of losers ever assembled there’s literally no chance for anything other than a flaming disaster.

    Look, spending more than what you take in never works in the real world; certainly not over the long term. But when the input becomes dependent upon a group of people that couldn’t find their own assholes with a map and a GPS system then you’re truly hosed.

  37. Hey Norm says:

    Wiley is absolutely perfect. Perfect.

  38. Scott says:

    “What most idiots do not understand is the rich do not pay taxes, they pass them on through goods and services to you.”

    Then why all the bitchin’ an’ moanin’ about raising taxes on them?

  39. anjin-san says:

    I could not get private insurance, period, not for any price at age 55.

    When I was 47, I left a job with good benefits to take a contractor position with a better potential upside. Figured I would just carry my own insurance until I became an employee. Think again. Aside from high blood pressure and colesterol, I am in excellent health, no weight problem, never been seriously ill.

    Insurers would not touch me. They don’t want to pay for the meds I am already taking. Luckily, my wife has a great job and I was able to get on her insurance until I became an employee a year later.

    So, if private insurers wont touch a middle aged guy in good health for his age, how are 70 year olds going to do on the open market?