Fact check: Romney’s charge on Obama’s $716-billion Medicare cut

Mitt Romney at Wednesday's presidential debate in Denver.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

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.

Hospitals and other providers agreed to these cuts in exchange for the Affordable Care Act’s plan to reduce the number of uninsured patients they currently care for.

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These offsets – less than 10% of the $7.5-trillion Medicare is expected to cost in the next decade – are critical to ensuring the healthcare law would not add to the federal deficit.

It is still unclear what effect these cuts will have on the program in the long run. And Romney accurately cited concerns that they may ultimately affect beneficiaries.

Several experts, including Medicare’s independent actuary, have warned that the planned cuts may force some providers to either close or to stop serving Medicare beneficiaries.

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